ENG 497 Seminar in English Literature |
Ecocriticism and American Nature Writing
In this senior seminar we will study several essential texts of American nature writing through the lens of ecocriticism, that branch of literary studies which examines the relations among writers, texts, and the biosphere. We will use Greg Garrard’s excellent introduction, Ecocriticism, and begin our study with several chapters from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, that Ur-text of dwelling—living thoughtfully and with care on the land. With Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, we’ll examine the ethics of dwelling and then read several works that explore our vexed human relationship with nature, Snyder’s 1969 book of poems, Turtle Island, Williams’ memoir, Refuge, and Wendell Berry’s novel, Jayber Crow. We will study some contemporary issues about agriculture and food by viewing the film, Food, Inc. and reading the recent novel by Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation. The course will culminate in the writing and presentation of a critical essay on some literary question connected with the course’s themes and texts.