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Academic Bulletin English - 2008-09 - 497 ENG 497

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Advanced (Seminar) Courses

Two sections of English 497 are the two Advanced Courses offered every fall. These are seminars designed primarily for English majors (although occasionally English minors enroll in them). The topics vary depending upon the research and teaching interests of the faculty. They demand a high level of student involvement in research and discussion. Several short papers and a long critical essay are required. Please Note: the two seminars are only offered in the fall semester.

ENG 497 Seminar in English Literature

Ecocriticism, Dwelling, and the Fate of the Earth

In American nature writing, as in American culture more generally, a key tension exists between texts which celebrate the possibility of rich, full, comprehending existence on the land and texts which suggest that the more likely possibility of human tenancy on the Earth is ecological collapse and apocalypse. The Ur-text of dwelling is Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; the contemporary text that most profoundly represents ecological apocalypse is Cormac McCarthys’ extraordinary novel, The Road. In poets, Robinson Jeffers, John Haines, Gary Snyder, and Wendell Berry; through non-fiction writers, Aldo Leopold (The Sand County Almanac), Edward Abbey (Desert Solitar), and Terry Tempest Williams (Refuge); and through novelists, Helena Maria Viramontes (Under the Feet of Jesus), Setch Kantner (Ordinary Wolves), and Cormac McCarthy (The Road). We will also read widely in the emerging field of ecocriticism, that branch of literary studies which examines the relations between writers, texts, and the biosphere, and use its methodologies to read our texts more richly. The course will culminate in the writing and presentation of a critical essay on some question connected with the course’s themes and texts.

Credits: 1