English R1B

Reading and Composition: Nature on the Page

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Fall 2018 Tomasula y Garcia, Alba
MWF 12-1 41 Evans

Book List

Carson, Rachel: Silent Spring; Dillard, Annie: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; Haushofer, Marlen: The Wall


In this course, we will examine how relationships between humans and nature are represented; what histories, perceptions, and biases inform such representations; and what the real-world consequences of particular representations may be. We will read three primary works that focus on human/nature interactions in three different narrative forms: investigative environmental report (Silent Spring), nonfiction narration (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek), and novel (The Wall). Through this, we will gain a sense of how writing can capture and influence feelings about nature, open up a space to interrogate assumptions about nature, and even shape major political decisions regarding the natural world. In addition to our main texts, we will broaden our understandings on human/nature interactions and the writings that influence them by reading materials from a range of disciplines, including ecofeminism, critical race studies, history of science, and colonial ecology.

A few broad questions we will consider during this class include: What precisely is nature? How have particular human cultures (or even particular individuals) opposed or embraced it, and why? And how have certain human identities and behaviors been elevated “above” nature, stigmatized as “unnatural,” or even denigrated because of their supposed closeness to nature? We will also explore how different forms of narration and representation offer ways of examining extant assumptions about nature, humans, and animals, as well as in imagining different ways of relating to the natural world. In addition to this course’s required readings, students are encouraged to explore other sources through which to open up and clarify our ideas on nature, writing, and representation.

As the subject of nature in writing is vast and multifaceted, it offers a diverse lens through which students will tackle the project and the process of writing a substantial research paper. We will break down this larger project into a series of steps, including topic proposals, drafting, revision, and peer feedback. Students will be given writing assignments throughout the semester, leading up to a final research essay.

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