In this course, we will study a number of prominent American literary
representations of the relationship between humans and the natural world. We
will consider why a long tradition of writing about nature and the environment
exists in American literature and culture and reflect on how environmental
literature might help us to map, understand, and possibly resolve some of the
larger ecological issues and crises we face today. Through writing and
discussion, we will examine closely the ways in which these selected writers
conceptualize nature, narrate their experiences in the more-than-human world,
depict and learn from nonhuman species, and contemplate notions of wilderness
and place. Ultimately, we will use tools of literary analysis to investigate
how these texts explore our attachments to physical environments through
arresting and affective prose.


Required Texts (available at Revolution Books, 2626 King Street)


·      Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
and Other Essays

·      Henry David Thoreau, Walden;
or, Life in the Woods

·      Mary Austin, The Land
of Little Rain

·      Aldo Leopold, A Sand
County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

·      Rachel Carson, Under
the Sea-Wind

·      John Steinbeck, The Log
from the Sea of Cortez

·      Annie Dillard, Pilgrim
at Tinker Creek

·      Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge:
An Unnatural History of Family and Place

·      Jon Krakauer, Into the


Course Requirements and Assignments


Attendance and participation

Four analytical reading responses (500 words)

Two 6-page papers

Midterm and final exams