Engl 3050 Literature and the Environment, Spring 2018

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last update: April 16, 2018


Class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:40-3pm, in Burleson 302.



  - AE = American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau

  - FW = Field Work: Modern Poems from Eastern Forests

  - BSNW = Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2017 


Week 1 

Wednesday, January 17:  Introductions. 

Begin reading Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Flight Behavior.  If you see this calendar before our class meeting, be sure to bring the novel to class. 


Week 2 

Monday, January 22:

Read at least the first six chapters of Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior (through p154).  Bring the novel to class today. 

Due:  In the form of a memo, addressed to both me and your classmates, write a response to Kingsolver's novel, so far. Write at least a few hundred words, responding to any aspect of the book.  Consider:  How do you like the writing?  Do you find any of the characters particularly interesting?  What do you think of the way the people of upper East Tennessee are portrayed?  How do you respond to the way science is discussed in the book? 


Wednesday, January 24: Read Kingsolver at least through chapter 10 (through p285). 

Also today: Book review essay topic proposal due.  Write a brief memo to me, in which you propose a topic for your book review.  What book would you like to review, and why?  Have you already read the book?  If so, under what circumstances?  What knowledge or experience or interest qualifies you to review this book?


Week 3 

Monday, January 29:  Finish reading Kingsolver. 


Wednesday, January 31:  Read, in Bill McKibben's The End of Nature, the 2006 Introduction, and Part I (through p78). 


Week 4 

Monday, February 5:  Finish reading The End of Nature. 


Wednesday, February 7:  Read the following four book reviews:

- "Mother Nature as a Hothouse Flower."  [Review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature.]  By David Graber.  The Los Angeles Times, October 22, 1989.  articles.latimes.com/1989-10-22/books/bk-726_1_bill-mckibben 

- "The Sky is Melting." [Review of Bill McKibben's The End of Nature.]  By Nicholas Wade. The New York Times, October 8, 1989.  www.nytimes.com/1989/10/08/books/the-sky-is-melting.html 

- "Book World: Barbara Kingsolver’s novel approach in ‘Flight Behavior’."  By Ron Charles.  The Washington Post, October 30, 2012.  www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/book-world-barbara-kingsolvers-novel-approach-in-flight-behavior/2012/10/30/4722523e-1d14-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_story.html 

- "The Butterfly Effect: ‘Flight Behavior,’ by Barbara Kingsolver."  By Dominique Browning.  The New York Times, Sunday Book Review, November 9, 2012. 



Week 5 

Monday, February 12: 

Bring AE to class; before class, browse the table of contents; look at all the pictures, read the accompanying captions, and browse the "Notes on the Illustrations." 

In addition, read the following:

In AE, read

- p9-19, an excerpt from Thoreau's Walden, "Chapter I: Economy." 

-  p19-25, an excerpt from Thoreau's Walden, "Chapter II: Where I Lived, and What I Lived For." 

- p62-71, excerpt from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

- Janisse Ray, from "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood," p898-906.


Wednesday, February 14: 

Read the following three essays and one poem, in AE:

- Muir, "A Wind-Storm in the Forests," p89-98. 

- In AE, read "Mad Farmer Liberation Front" and "The Making of a Marginal Farm," p505-515, by Wendell Berry. 

- Julia Butterfly Hill, from "The Legacy of Luna," p907-19. 

And read this review: - "Fighting Deforestation and Capitalism: How a Woman’s Refusal to Leave a Tree Helped Preserve the Redwoods" [review of The Legacy of Luna, by Julia Butterfly Hill, 2000].  By Amanda Nicholson.  Written for Engl 3050 Lit & Environment, Spring 2015.  faculty.etsu.edu/odonnell/2015spring/engl3050/1505_luna_rev_by_nicholson.pdf 


Week 6 

Monday, February 19:  Draft of book review essay due.  Workshop in class. 


Wednesday, February 21: 

In AE, read the following:

- Terry Tempest Williams, from Refuge, p739-59. 

- Ellen Meloy, "The Flora and Fauna of Las Vegas," p793-808

- Edward Abbey, "Polemic: Industrial Tourism and the National Parks," p413-34.


Week 7 

Monday, February 26:  Book review essay due.  In class, we will review for exam 1. 

Wednesday, February 28:  Exam 1. 


            SPRING BREAK: MARCH 5 - 9  


Week 8 

Monday, March 12:

Read "How to Be a Female Nature Writer," by Joan Maloof, here online: faculty.etsu.edu/odonnell/readings/how_to_be_a_female_nature_writer.pdf

Begin reading Rash's Serena.  Bring the book to class. 


Wednesday, March 14:  Read Serena  through part II (to page 210, which is the end of chapter 21). 


Week 9 

Monday, March 19: Finish Serena.  Read two short chapters from Joan Maloof's Among the Ancients: Adventures in the Eastern Old-Growth Forests (Ruka Press, Wash. D.C. 2011): "North Carolina: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest" p16-23; and "South Carolina: Congaree National Park" p24-29.  Here, online: faculty.etsu.edu/odonnell/readings/maloof_ancients.pdf  


Wednesday, March 21:  Class meets at the University Woods Gazebo, at the top of parking lot #13, off of Southwest Avenue (immediately south of the concrete railroad bypass bridge that is, in turn, south of--and uphill from--Sherrod Library and Governor's Hall).  Joan Maloof will talk with us at the gazebo, then walk with us through the woods.  Dress appropriately and bring sturdy shoes.


Also, this evening, 7-8:30 pm, Maloof will give a presentation and lead discussion -- "Old-Growth Forests: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter." In The Tennessee Room, on the 3rd floor of the ETSU Culp Center.  Extra credit: One check mark if you attend.


Week 10 (Mon March 26; Weds March 28)  

Monday, March 26:  In AE, read Teale, "The Longest Day," p313-17; Dillard, "Fecundity," p531-49. 

Wednesday, March 28:  In AE, read Gibbs, from Love Canal: My Story, p609-621; Kingsolver, "Knowing Our Place," p939-47.  Due: Revision of essay 1, for a new grade, if you do, indeed, choose to revise it. 


Week 11 

Monday, April 2:  Due:  Rough draft of Essay 2: Essay Based on Personal Experience/ Observation.  Bring 2 extra copies of your draft (total of 3 copies) for a writing workshop. 

Wednesday, April 4:  Read the introduction to Field Work: Modern Poems from Eastern Forests.  Read the Robert Frost poem, and read the poems by the 4 late-Tang dynasty poets represented in Part I.  Also, browse through the book and pick at least 2 additional poems that you'd like to discuss in class.  Come to class, prepared to read those to the whole class, and to discuss them. 


Week 12  

Monday, April 9: 

Read the following in FW: 

- Wendell Berry, two poems: p58 and 59.

- Poems by James Still: p29 to 36. 

- Poems by Charles Wright and Mary Oliver:  p73-85. 

- Poems by Jane Kenyon, Jim Wayne Miller, John Lane: p.101-111. 

Due:  Try writing a nature poem of your own!  Be prepared to pass it around, in class. 


Wednesday, April 11: 

Read the following five poems by Joy Harjo:

- "Eagle Poem"

- "A Map to the Next World"

- "Ah, Ah"

- "Invisible Fish"

- "Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings"

This evening, Weds Apr 11, at 7:30pm in the Culp Center: Joy Harjo reads from her work, as part of the "ETSU Celebrates Creative Writing" festival.  Extra credit: One check mark if you attend.


Week 13 

Monday, April 16: Essay 2 due.


Wednesday, April 18: 

Read these two articles, in BSNW: "Song of Ice" by Kolbert, p93-114; "Unfriendly Climate" by Smith, p296-310. 


Week 14 

Monday, April 23: 

Read these two articles, in BSNW:"The Amateure Cloud Society That (Sort of) Rattled the Scientific Community" by Mooallem, p271-284; "The Art of Saving Relics" by Everts, p1-10. 


Wednesday, April 25: 

Read these two articles, in BSNW: "The Physics Pioneer Who Walked Away from It All" by Davies, p189-204; "Something Uneasy in the Los Angeles Air" by Kudler, p115-122.


Also, today we will review in class for exam 2. 


    Exam 2 administered during the official final exam period:  Monday, April 30, 1:20-3:20pm