Literature & the Environment

Is nature something to be found out there, in the other side of culture? Is it something of which human beings no longer partake? Are we, humans, outside of nature?  This course examines how literature depicts our natural environment. It focuses on the ways in which an awareness of environment in literature informs and expresses cultural assumptions, individuals and their locality, conceptions of the human (and of the nonhuman and the inanimate), the unprecedented destruction of our planet, gender, economic, and racial issues, and the ways our thinking about the environment shapes how we know ourselves and the world. We will consider a range of work—poetry, nature writing, and fictional prose—from a variety of writers mostly from the Americas. We will also consider a series of critical texts that propose new theoretical models to think the relationship between literature and the environment.

Syllabus