English 204: Environmental Literature (PDF Version)
MC 436, TR 9:30 a.m.–10:50 a.m.
Grant T. Smith, Ph.D.
Office: MC 533
Office Hours: T Th 1–3 p.m., MWF 2–3 p.m.
S Y L L A B U S
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Chapters “Economy” and “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”
Earth, My Likeness: Nature Poetry of Walt Whitman edited by Howard Nelson
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Deliverance by James Dickey
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things by Allan Durning
In this course we will read nonfiction, fiction, and poetry that will help us to explore the complex relationships between "place" and "self." We will first attempt to identify and define the environments (places) around us and discover the inter-relationships we share with members (human and non-human) of those environments. Through the literature we read we shall then attempt to define the "self" through a paradigm of relationships with the members of those places. We shall consider these questions throughout the semester:
- What is a sense of place?
- How am I connected physically and or spiritually to a place?
- How am I shaped by a place?
- What affect do I have on a place?
- How do I define my physical, spiritual, and environmental self?
- What experiences with the environment and with others have shaped my being?
Format: Class sessions will consist of lectures and discussions. I expect the students to read carefully the assigned texts and be able to discuss the relationship between each selection and the various themes listed above.
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- Thinking—Students engage in the critical and creative thinking
- Ethical Decision Making—Students respond to ethical issues
- Communication—Students communicate effectively orally and in writing
- Aesthetic Sensitivity—Students engage in artistic experiences and reflect critically upon them
- Cultural Sensitivity—Students demonstrate a respect for the diversity of the human experience
- Community Involvement—Students demonstrate responsible citizenship
English Department Student Learning Outcomes:
Critically read and analyze a variety of texts.
Invent, draft, revise, and edit effectively for various audiences and purposes.
Research and document proficiently
Demonstrate proficiency in the use of bibliographic resources and other research tools to find, incorporate, and properly cite sources, according to MLA style.
Understand literary classifications
Demonstrate familiarity with classification of literature written in English, including:
- Historical development
Understand development of English
Demonstrate familiarity with the basic history of the development of the English language.
Transfer skills to work
Connect academic training to potential professional experience.
Links related to English Department Student Learning Outcomes:
Students who have three or fewer absences during the semester will receive 100 points. Students who have four to six absences will receive 60 points. Any student who has more than six absences will be asked to withdraw from the course.
Course Work Requirements:
- Two reflection essays on assigned readings (two-to-three pages for each essay)
- One reflection essay on individual project (three-to-five pages)
- Two formal essays (midterm and final – five-to-seven pages for each essay)
- Class Participation
- The students’ comprehension of the texts we read through their participation in class and their journal responses.
- The students’ writing communication skills will be evaluated through their journal responses and their formal essays. Rubrics will be provided as guides for appropriate journal responses and formal essays.
- The students’ class participation will be evaluated through their oral presentations at the end of the semester. A rubric will be provided as a guide for an appropriate presentation.
- Attendance: 100 points
- Reflection essays: 300 points
- Participation: 100 points
- Midterm essay: 100 points
- Final essay: 200 points
Week One: January 17
Introduction to Environmental Literature
Environmental Literature PowerPoint
Selected poems by Walt Whitman in Earth, My Likeness
The Walt Whitman home page
A website for John Townsend Trowbridge's essay on meeting Walt Whitman (printed in 1902)
A website for a research and reference guide to Walt Whitman's life and works
A website for Walt Whitman Archive
Whitman PowerPoint Presentation
Song of Myself PowerPoint Presentation
Class notes on The Environmental Imagination
The National Parks Conservation Association Home Page.
Environmental Issues Home Page
A second Environmental Issues Home Page
The Wisconsin Home Page
Weeks Two and Three: January 24, 31
Read Chapters One and Two in Walden by Henry David Thoreau -- To read Walden in hypertext, click here.
"Environmental" Web Page on Henry David Thoreau
Additional Web Page on Henry David Thoreau
Habitat for Humanity Home Page
Discussion questions for Walden
Pictures of Walden
PowerPoint Presentation on Walden
Weeks Four and Five: February 7, 14
Read Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
"Evolution as Fact and Theory" and "Learning to See" in The Natural World (on reserve in the library)
"Environmentalism of the Spirit" by Al Gore in Constructing Nature (on reserve in the library)
"The Global Ecological Crisis" by Carolyn Merchant in Constructing Nature (on reserve in the library)
"The Greenhouse Affect" by P.J. O’Rourke in Constructing Nature (on reserve in the library)
An interview "The Politics of Place" with Terry Tempest Williams
Official Web Page of Terry Tempest Williams
Official Web Page of the Mormon Church
Definition of ecofeminism by Rosemary Radford Reuther
Research and reference guide to nature, ecocriticism, and ecofeminism
Discussion questions on Refuge
Weeks Six and Seven: February 21, 28
Read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Discussion questions for Into the Wild
Essay by students who visited McCandless's death site.
A review of Into the Wild.
Wallace Stegner's comments on the wilderness.
A student's journal response to Into the Wild.
Click here for a student's formal essay on Into the Wild.
Spring Break: March 7–11
Weeks Eight and Nine: March 14, 21
Read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (Read Part 1: "A Sand County Almanac" and "Wisconsin" in Part II and "The Land Ethic in Part IV.
Read "A White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett
The Aldo Leopold Home Page.
An outline on the Aldo Leopold land ethic.
A definition of environmental ethics
The Greenpeace International Home Page
Environmental News Network
A Web Page on The Land Ethic
Official "Endangered Species" web site
Some additional poems about nature
Weeks Ten and Eleven: March 28, April 4
Read Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things by John C. Ryan and Alan Durning
Read Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Discussion Questions to Ship Breaker
Weeks Twelve and Thirteen: April 11, 18
Easter Break: April 21–25
Earth Day: April 22
Read Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen: April 25, May 2
Read Deliverance by James Dickey
Discussion questions on Deliverance
Week Sixteen: May 9
Final Exam: Thursday, May 12, 10 a.m., MC 436
Final exam questions