Environmental Literature

What is the human relationship to the natural world? In Environmental Literature, students explore the complex and intrinsic connection between humankind and the environment.

How do authors portray nature and environment? What is humankind’s responsibility to our environment? How do we find the balance between dominance and coexistence? In this class, the definition of “environment” expands beyond simply “nature” to signify the place where you live: home, neighborhood, and community.

Throughout our excursion, students read authors who have a keen and unique experience with the natural world. Students critically read and analyze central texts by the Romantic poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Wendell Berry, and Rachel Carson, which highlight humankind’s innate interest, awe, and concern for the environment. These central texts may be balanced by works by Terry Tempest Williams, Jon Krakauer, William Faulkner, Wallace Stegner, and Mary Oliver. Writing is central to this course with an emphasis on analytic essays as well as creative works: poetry, prose, and nature journals.

As a City as Our Campus course, we also explore our city’s built and natural environments to help us better understand our relationship with our world. This includes writing excursions in the woods, expeditions to abandoned steel mills, and volunteering on local farms to help us connect and learn in various environments. Experts and community members also help us consider multiple perspectives on space and environment.

In Environmental Literature, we’ll leave no stone unturned!