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“Nature” is one of the commonest words in English. And yet what does it signify? Is it primarily descriptive (all living things), or normative (“natural” foods, “human nature”)? This course will consider the richly incoherent ways we think about the living world, paying attention to the difficulty of narrating processes that are often too big, too small, too quick or too slow for direct human apprehension. We’ll also explore the ways popular nature writing mingles scientific reporting with implicit judgments about human identity, morality, and social organization. Writers studied will include Elizabeth Kolbert, N. Scott Momaday, Bill McKibben and Charles Darwin. We’ll also consider the technologica mediations of nature in documentaries by David Attenborough, Anne Sommerfield, and Lynette Wallworth, among others.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Several short written exercises, an eight page comparative midterm essay, and a final twelve to fifteen page online essay incorporating audiovisual materials. Active participation in class. Note that this course will be offered exclusively online.
a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
English majors; Environmental Studies majors and concentrators.
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: