English R1A

Reading & Composition: Getting Outside Ourselves: Beyond Wilderness

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2014 McWilliams, Ryan
TTh 3:30-5 222 Wheeler

Book List

Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac; Thoreau, Henry David: Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings; Woolf, Virginia: To The Lighthouse

Other Readings and Media

There will be an extensive course reader containing required materials.  


Do birds really sing, or is the idea of “song” a human construct? If humans have altered their environments for thousands of years, what do we mean when we try to preserve “wilderness” areas? Can we truly imagine what it would be like to see life through the eyes of another person—or even an animal?

This course will consider some of the ways that writers have approached such questions of perspective and agency. We will read essays, stories, and poems that interrogate our tendency to view humans as the center of existence. By contrast, we will consider texts arguing that it is dangerous to separate nature and culture. We will pay particular attention to artists who explore the limits of selfhood, culminating with To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece of intersubjectivity.

To expand on a famous phrase from Walden, this course will encourage you to read, think, and write deliberately. During the semester, you will compose and revise a series of short essays.

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