The following courses are approved for the Environmental Literature and Environmental Writing foci.

Courses offered in the past four years. Courses offered currently are as noted.

Course Description

The Feminine Heroic
In this class we will explore the hero’s journey in literature as it relates to women and the natural world: who gets to go on the adventure, and who arrives home, transformed? How do race and gender complicate the traditional man-versus-nature narrative? We will discuss character agency, narrative authority, style, and structure — and look at texts where women undertake the journey, including work by Isak Dinesen, Annie Dillard, Camille Dungy, Rachel Carson, Anne LeBastille, Rahawa Haile, and Pam Houston. Students will generate creative and critical work. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

LIT

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Course Description

Animals in Literature and Culture
Animals, wrote anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, are good to think with. They are good to write with as well; almost all works of literature include animals, their importance varying from the merely peripheral to the absolutely central. Among other narrative functions, animals serve as essential metaphors for understanding the human animal. In this course we will read a wide variety of fiction, poetry, children's literature, philosophy, science, history, and cultural theory from Ancient Greek sources (in translation) to the present. We will consider theoretical, ethical, religious, psychological, linguistic, and political issues pertaining to animals and their representation in literary texts. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Spring 2021

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

British Literature and Culture (I) (Pre-1800)
Topic is determined by the instructor - refer to section for the course description.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Pre-1900 AL)
This course will examine major developments in the literary world of 19th century America. Specific topics to be addressed might include the transition from Romanticism to Regionalism and Realism, the origins and evolution of the novel in the United States, and the tensions arising from the emergence of a commercial marketplace for literature. Attention will also be paid to the rise of women as literary professionals in America and the persistent problematizing of race and slavery. Among others, authors may include J. F. Cooper, Emerson, Melville, Douglass, Chopin, Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, Alcott, Wharton, and James. . 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Encounters With the Wild: Nature, Culture, Poetry (I) (Pre-1800)
Civilization is often defined against wilderness. The two ideas are not exclusive but mutually constitutive, for wilderness and the wild turn out to be central to notions of the civil and the civilized. Poets have long been preoccupied by the boundaries and connections between these ideas. The word "poetry" itself comes from a Greek word for "craft" or "shaping"; thus, poetry implies the shaping of natural elements into an artful whole. In this course we will examine the literary history of this ongoing dialectic by reading and discussing masterpieces of Western literature, from ancient epics to modern poetry and folklore. As we do so we will rethink the craft of poetry, and the role of the poet, in mapping the wild. Readings will include Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, sections of The Bible and Ovid's Metamorphoses, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, and poems by Wyatt, Marlowe, Jonson, Donne, Marvell, Pope, and Thompson. (This course counts toward the ENVS Literature focus and the ENVS Environmental Non-Fiction Focus) lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CMP, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Maritime Literature and Culture
Writers have long found the sea to be a cause of wonder and reflection. A mirror for some and a desert for others, the sea has influenced the imaginations of writers throughout history in vastly different ways. In this course we will read a variety of literary works, both fiction and non-fiction, in which the sea acts as the setting, a body of symbolism, an epistemological challenge, and a reason to reflect on the human relationship to nature. Readings will be drawn from the Bible, Homer's Odyssey, Old English Poetry, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Kipling, Conrad, Melville, Hemingway, Walcott, O'Brian, and others. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

LIT

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Course Description

Nature Poetry
Can a poem reframe the relationship between humans and nature? Poets have posed this and similar questions for centuries. Scholars of literature and the environment, or “ecocritics,” ask it anew with reference to ongoing disasters such as global climate change, mass extinction, and new pandemics. In this course we will develop our ecocritical skills by exploring how poems about the human relationship to the biophysical environment can inspire us to rethink our place in the universe. We will read works by such poets as Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Butler Yeats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, Elisabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Galway Kinnell, Maxine Kumin, Lucia Perillo, and Jorie Graham. (at least one course each in ENAM and ENVS) 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

LIT

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Course Description

Recent Novels of Environmental Justice
In recent years the global Anglophone novel has emerged as a literary forum for negotiating issues of Environmental Justice in what has been called The Global South. Novelists from Sri Lanka to the United States, South Africa, South Asia, Britain, and Canada have recently explored such issues as hunger, land access, migration, environmental toxicity, indigeneity versus national identity, and diminishing resources in novels that explore the lives of some of the globe’s most vulnerable populations. The books we read and discuss are set in far-flung regions, from South Africa, India, and Oceania to what some have called “third-world North America.” Our task will be to theorize and interpret the way these novels represent environmental inequality, injustice, and exploitation and to consider what Environmental Justice might look like in these places 3 hrs. sem. (Diversity) (Rec)

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

AAL, CMP, LIT

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Course Description

African Environmental Writing, Photography, and Film
Concerned with social implications of environmental change, a burgeoning number of contemporary African photographers, filmmakers, and authors are challenging the public with social documents that protest ecologically destructive forms of neocolonial development. These works actively resist oppression, abuse, and conflagration of both the black body and the environment. Subverting the neocolonialist rhetoric and gaze, these creative practitioners complicate what it means to write about and look at those most affected by environmental injustices perpetrated by international and national actors. In this course we will view relevant photographs and films and read African environmental literature as sources of artistic and activist inspiration. Whilst reading, we will ask ourselves the hard questions of what to do with our own complicity when facing the role that the global north plays in the causation of environmental degradation and human suffering. Students will be expected to reflect upon how best to regard the pain of others in the Anthropocene, as well as upon how culture influences creative depictions of the Anthropocene. Seminar papers will address questions that arise from analyzing particular works. This course counts as a Humanities cognate for environmental studies majors. (Diversity) (Rec)

Terms Taught

Winter 2019, Winter 2020, Winter 2022

Requirements

AAL, LIT, SAF, WTR

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