Exercises in Nature Writing Winter 2024

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Class Details

Nature writing as a genre has a pedigree tracing back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 -322 BCE). Based on direct observations of lagoon life on Lesbos, he described squid behavior as “using ink for the purpose of concealment.” Nature writing is vital to our survival as a species. Eight billion humans crowd Planet Earth, some 75% dwelling in cities with limited exposure to nature. Our social media (Face Book, Twitter, Instagram) isolates us further from nature as we obsess about inter-personal relationships. Using examples drawn from the literature, this course covers a range in styles from the diary format following nature in one place through a calendar year (Gilbert White, The Natural History of Selborne, 1789) to descriptions of a single ecosystem (Joseph Wood Krutch, The Voice of the Desert, 1954) to the longitudinal treatment of multiple environments like the eastern seaboard of the United States (Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea, 1955). Yet more expanded in scale are explorations in space and geologic time (Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey, 1957) and over-arching themes such as extinction (David Quammen, The Song of the Dodo, 1996). Most urgent of all are considerations of global warming (Elizabeth Kolbert, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, 2021). Selected passages from these and other authors will be read aloud and discussed in class. Students may propose readings from their favorite author(s) and will choose a particular style to express their own writing at the close of the course.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1175
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Presentation(s); Creative project(s)
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: None
Unit Notes: Markes Johnson an established author with three books on the geology of Mexico's Baja California peninsula (University of Arizona Press) and a new book under the title "Islands in Deep Time" expected in October 2023 from Columbia University Press
Materials/Lab Fee: $32
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
SLFX Winter Study Self-Expression
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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