This class introduces students to the study of literature and the environment, generally known as ecocriticism. Since ecocriticism has its roots in U.S. nature writing, we will begin by surveying selections from early canonical texts in the field of ecocriticism, including excerpts from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. As we read these texts, we will examine how conceptions of nature have changed over the course of a century, and we will look at the ways these conceptions of nature position race, gender, and class relations as they came to inform mainstream environmentalism. We will go on to discuss how environmental justice literature has increasingly informed ecocritical debates in the U.S.A. and globally by reading Under the Feet of Jesus, by Helena Maria Viramontes. To analyze how literature from outside the U.S.A. has reworked early ecocritical understandings of environmentalism and nature, we will examine selections from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable and Wangari Maathai’s Unbowed: A Memoir. As we delve into the many genres that populate the field of ecocriticism, we will also look at how multimedia, including documentary film, podcasts, and even video games, are increasingly becoming part of the study of literature and the environment. Ultimately, this course provides a solid foundation in the literature and literary history of ecocriticism, thereby positioning students to critically think and write about narratives that conceptualize the planet and the multitude of social and material relationships it comprises.
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.
Lower-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience. Major II students can also use one lower-division elective to fulfill the Writing Requirement with ENG 209 The Craft of the Sentence.