Week Two

Tuesday, January 24

In your folder, read:
Wolf Warrior, Joy Harjo
Wellfleet Whale, Stanley Kunitz
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, Wendell Berry
Fireflies, Naomi Shihab Nye
The Vacation, Wendell Berry
The Reason Why I am Afraid, Ray A. Young Bear
The River, Raymond Carver

I realize that these are all poems. That's because poems are easy to xerox. (And your teacher loves poetry.) If you want to read something in addition to poems, you could check out the "Dear America" series that the online environmental magazine Terrain.org has been running since election day. Here is one by Scott Russell Sanders, who is a very well-known nature writer: Dear America

Short paper #2 

Oh, and be sure to add yourself on UBlend -- our secret code is 3fp2x7

Thursday, January 26

In your folder, read:
Wild, Mary Donahoe
Womanwork, Paula Gunn Allen
9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher, Drew Lanhan
Fire, Joy Harjo
I am a Dangerous Woman, Joy Harjo

But also check out this editorial in the NY Times: If You See Something, Say Something
And: John Oliver's take on climate change.

Short paper #3

Week One

Welcome! This is the course blog, where I'll post assignments and announcements. (Check out the Assignment Schedule in the Sidebar if you want to see the whole semester at a glance.)

The first thing you need to do for this course is make sure you have the books. Since it will take a couple of days for the books to arrive, you will want to order them as soon as possible. I am hoping you will be able to find inexpensive copies online.

Literature and the Environment
edited by Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, and John P. O’Grady.

Make sure you get the SECOND EDITION. It should look like this:

Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Word For World is Forest by Ursula LeGuin
The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer

For Thursday, January 19 

Read these selections from your folder:
Drowning in Apathy, Roxana Robinson
Cattail Wind, Joseph Bruchac
Beyond Hope, Derrick Jensen
For the Children, Gary Snyder

Plus, check this out: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Turned into Haiku

And if you have time, read the two pieces we didn't get to on Tuesday:
The Greatest Nature Essay Ever, Brian Doyle
Nature Writing by the Numbers, David Gessner

Short Paper #1 due. Think of a short paper as a way to add to the conversation in the classroom. We will be sharing them with each other.

EWP 490 Contemporary Nature Literature

In this course, we'll be reading contemporary nature literature, focusing primarily on authors and movements after Rachel Carson. We’ll relate that literature to current events, to history, to western culture, to religion and politics, to pop culture, to the environmental movement, to media representations of nature, to other texts, and to our own life experiences.

We will be especially looking at emerging voices – ecofeminists, native writers, science writers, animal rights activists, deep ecologists, and other perspectives that differ from the mainstream. We will be applying ecocriticism, a type of literary criticism that approaches literature from an ecological perspective.

Books for the course

Literature and the Environment
edited by Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, and John P. O’Grady.
Make sure you get the SECOND EDITION. It should look like this:


Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer. A series of personal essays that tells the stories of moss through both science and indigenous ways of knowing.

The Word For World is Forest by Ursula LeGuin. A science fiction book that the movie Avatar was loosely based on.

The Bee-Loud Glade by Steve Himmer. A novel about a decorative hermit who lives on a rich man's estate.

In addition we'll be using online resources such as Orion Magazine and XKCD. Be sure to check this blog for links to assignments.

Short papers

This course is designed to get you in the habit of setting aside time every week for reading. You'll be assigned readings twice each week, and I expect a written response to these readings. These response pieces are a good part of the writing you will be doing for the course. They should show that you are engaging with the readings and the class discussions. Please take them seriously.

Think of these short papers as a way to add to the conversation we will be having in the classroom. You'll be sharing them with your classmates.

Your response could include:
Questions for class discussion
Your opinion on a topic the writer brought up
A summary of what you read
Observations about what you read
What you thought about the poem or story or essay
A piece of creative writing inspired by what you read
A list of topics you think the piece covered
Questions you might have for the author
An interesting tangent inspired by the piece
Something you researched about the author

You could:
Share a relevant experience from your life
Share relevant information from other ESF courses
Share insights you had while reading
Connect what you read to a topic we discussed in class
Go off on a worthwhile tangent
Ask questions about things you didn't understand in the reading
Critique the text
Analyze some part of the text that seemed interesting
Relate the reading to current events
Relate the reading to environmental issues

Most of the time your response will be a full page of writing, done on a computer. (Single-space the lines, but double-space between paragraphs.) But not always. Your response might be a drawing or a photograph.

Official learning outcomes

After completing this course, the student should be able to:

1. Identify and discuss works of contemporary and twentieth century American nature literature in which nature is not merely the setting, background, or casual reference point but a central subject.
2. Define ecocriticism and apply that method of literary analysis to a work of contemporary nature literature.
3. Recognize and appreciate the differences between new and traditional media in the production of literary texts.
4. Demonstrate knowledge of different literary elements and the creative process used by regional writers who explore environmental issues.
5. Analyze several forms of written expression (poem, novel, autobiography, short story, memoir, essay) and the ways in which these genres explore the relationship between nature and culture.
6. Examine the factors that shape our thoughts and actions towards nature, and what role text plays in that process.
7. Apply knowledge of the hard sciences and social sciences to the literary analysis of texts, looking at topics such as land use management, policy, ecology, resource distribution, and geology.
8. Use their own writing to summarize, paraphrase, analyze, critique, or respond to a text.
9. Present their ideas, including summary, interpretation, and critique of written texts, orally.

Official policies and such

You are expected to attend all classes unless you are desperately sick. Most professors will understand if you miss one or two classes over the course of a whole semester, but you would be wise not to miss no more than that. If you are desperately sick and need to stay in bed, please talk to one of your classmates to find out what you missed. Or check this blog. Any student who misses more than two classes will be required to have a conference with the teacher.

Participating in class means more than merely showing up for class. It means coming to class awake, well-rested, and prepared.

Plagiarism is a serious offense and will be treated as such on the ESF campus. The Council of Writing Program Administrators offers this definition for plagiarism: "In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common‐knowledge) material without acknowledging its source."   A failure to acknowledge and properly cite your sources can look like plagiarism. It’s essential for you to think about your sources, evaluate whether or not the sources are credible, and document where you are getting your information from at every step of the process.

The Writing Center
Experienced consultants are trained to work with you one-on-one during all stages of your writing projects. Consultants are usually not available for drop in hours; time slots fill quickly, especially during peak times in the semester. Sign up in advance on the schedule located in the basement of Moon Library (look for the green sign) for a 30 or 50-minute weekday, weeknight, or weekend session in the Center. This is a free resource to all students and recommended for all writing assignments in this class.

Academic Accommodations 
Students wishing to utilize academic accommodations due to a diagnosed disability of any kind must present an Academic Accommodations Authorization Letter generated by Syracuse University’s Office of Disability Services. If you currently have an Authorization Letter, please present this to your teachers as soon as possible so that they may assist with the establishment of your accommodations. Students who do not have a current Academic Accommodations Authorization Letter from Syracuse University’s Office of Disability Services cannot receive accommodations. If you do not currently have an Authorization Letter and feel you are eligible for accommodations, please contact Heather Rice in the Office of Counseling and Disabilities Services, 110 Bray Hall, (315) 470-6660 or counseling@esf.edu as soon as possible.