Intro to Lit: Culture & Lit

The field of English studies has recently seen the rise of new fields of study; one new area of interest concerns the environment. This field is kniwn as ecocriticism or the environmental humanities. Through paintings, novels, essays, poems, and film, we will take a journey through the representation of nature in literary studies in recent years. This course will explore how representation of nature or the environment has framed issues such as individualism, beauty, solitude, majesty, lifestyle, gender, as well as habitat loss and toxic environments. Of particular interest will be recent concepts such hyperobjects, posthumanism, the Anthropocene, and the transcorporeal.

Readings will include “classic” authors such as Thoreau as well as more recent authors such as Val Plumwood, who explores being attacked by a crocodile. Recent theorists such as Myra Jehlen, Ursula Heise and Timothy Morton will also play into discussions. We will read excerpts from Henry David Thoreau, Walter Pater, William Wordsworth, Herman Melville , Robinson Jeffers, Karen Yamashita, Terry Tempest Williams, Willa Cather, Scott Russell Sanders, Gary Snyder, Val Plumwood, Bill Holm,  Wendell Berry, Ed Abbey Mary Oliver, Czelaw Milosz, Mary Austin, and others. We will examine paintings of Albert Bierstadt and the Hudson River School artists, Casper David Friedrich, JMW Turner, Mark Rothko, Julie Mehretu and others. Likely books required and available in the bookstore will be:

The Solace of Open Spaces Gretel Ehrlich
Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams,
O Pioneers! Willa Cather
Selected Poems Robinson Jeffers

• Two 4-5 page literary essays
• Several shorter written efforts
• Weekly structured responses to reading and discussions
• Two oral presentations
• Attendance and Participation
• Final Exam