English 190

Research Seminar: Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2020 Shoptaw, John
MW 10:30-12 305 Wheeler

Description

Ecopoetry – nature poetry that is environmental and environmentalist – is an international twenty-first century movement.  But in the nature poetry and poetics of the United States it has deep and wide-spread roots.  This seminar will explore this movement in U.S. nature and environmental(ist) poetry from the nineteenth to the contemporary poetry and poetics; romantics and post-romantics (including Bryant, Whitman, Dickinson, Emerson and Thoreau), modernists (including Frost, Stevens, Jeffers, Moore, Eliot, Brown) post-modernists (including Snyder, Merwin, Bishop, Berry) and contemporaries (including Graham, Hass, Baker, Gander, Dungy, Hillman and Hirshfield).  We will also read relevant theories of nature and its representation in poetry; and also ecopoetics, essays about the natures and uses of ecopoetry.  While focusing on U.S. poetry and poetics, we will also consider parallel and influentual poetry and poetics from English and Anglophone poets and essayists, and some ecopoetry in translation (from China, Europe, and elsewhere). (Our seminar readings will come from our course reader and website.) While our exploration will be primarily historical, our focus will also be theoretical, involving a number of recurrent topics, including anthropocentrism (and ecocentrism), anthropomorphism (the pathetic fallacy), animals (plants, forests, oceans), place, disaster and pollution, environmental justice, and global warming.  You will learn how to read a poem ecocritically.  You will be asked to write a 5-page paper on a nature poem, and a 15-page research paper on an ecopoet or a grouping of related ecopoems.  You will also keep a journal of ecological musings in prose and/or verse.  Each of you will read a 5-minute selection in May during our public reading and (zero-waste) Green Party.   

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