English 165

Special Topics: Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2022 Shoptaw, John
MW 5-6:30 Wheeler 104

Other Readings and Media

We will read from a course reader, which will be available before the beginning of the term from Krishna Copy (University Ave. and Milvia).


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 Whitman, Dickinson, Emerson and Thoreau), modernists (including Frost, Stevens, Jeffers, Moore, Eliot, Sterling Brown) post-modernists (including Snyder, Merwin, Bishop, Berry) and contemporaries (including Diaz, Graham, Hass, Baker, Gander, Dungy, Hillman and Hirshfield).  We will read relevant theories of nature and its representation in poetry; and we’ll also read ecopoetics, essays by poets and others about the natures and uses of ecopoetry.  While our exploration will be primarily historical, our focus will also be theoretical, involving a number of recurrent topics, including anthropocentrism (and ecocentrism), anthropomorphism (and the pathetic fallacy), place, disaster and pollution, environmental justice, and climate change.  You will learn how to read a poem ecocritically.  You will be asked to write three five-page essays on a poem by a post-romantic, a modern, and a post-modern poet.  Alternately, you may write a five-page essay on a post-romantic or modern and a ten-page essay on a contemporary poet.  I welcome students from English and from other majors.  This seminar is multi-centered and open-ended.  It benefits from local the experiences and expertise from its students.  I learn as much as I teach. 

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