Preface and Collection of Essays : Writing in an Endangered World
Due Sunday November 19th: post a Preface to your collection of essays (see below) on your blog
Background and Suggestions: You have completed eleven posts each approximately 1000 words for a total of 11,000 words. In double-spaced text with 12-point font this works out to about forty pages. This is a significant product. At the same time, you have been reading and thinking about the essay as a form of writing in your role as an editorial assistant, and we have dedicated a dozen or so hours in class talking about the necessary recursive process that can 1) clarify for you and your reader what you are doing in each essay and 2) give you specific strategies to do your work as a writer well.
Your blog is a published collection of essays. A collection of essays has integrity and also offers a reader more than a series of discreet pieces. Your task here is to write a Preface. A Preface is an introduction to a work, written directly to a reader, that often will describe what the author has discovered as the integrated whole of the work. What is that integrity? How do the essays work together as a commentary on the books we have read and the tradition of thinking about the more-than-human world we have been studying together since early September? Does the title of your blog, the title of each essay, reflect the focus you have discovered in writing?
A beautiful model of a Preface is Gary Snyder’s in the Counterpoint Edition of The Practice if the Wild. He knows what he is doing and he is doing it well. Wendell Berry has written one for The Unsettling of America, too. I suggest going over to the Mason Library as well to browse a few examples of the genre of Preface. You might see the use of epigraphs, you will see how writers in looking back can see what was often not apparent to the writer, and will often not be readily available to a reader. A Preface will also at times tell a story of the composition of the work in terms of context: what the broader conversation is, where and what the writer was working through, and how the collection of essays fits in as a part of something perhaps less visible in the essays themselves. Browsing through examples can also give you a sense of effective voices for this kind of introductory essay.
Dates and Essays Here are the dates and essays that you will have completed by the 19th of November
November 19 Preface
September 3 First Thoughts
September 10 Second Thoughts
September 17 Rachel Carson Silent Spring
September 24 Gary Snyder Turtle Island
October 1 Wendell Berry The Unsettling of America
October 8 Making Connections
October 15 Linda Hogan Solar Storms
October 22 Terry Tempest Williams Refuge: An Unnatural History
October 29 Edward Abbey The Monkey Wrench Gang
November 5 Gary Snyder The Practice of the Wild
November 12 T. C. Boyle The Tortilla Curtain
Examples of Essay Collections As you write your Preface you may discover that the sequence of the essays might be changed to better reflect the integrity of the collection. This can be done simply by changing the publication date in the WP editing screen. Here are cases that simply reverse the chronology of the essays on the blog. So, for example, Anna’s first post “Personal Connections: Where to Begin?” uses a personal essay to begin the collection. This makes sense. There are other good reasons to not simply use course chronology. Think about this. Change the sequence accordingly. (Remember, finally, if you are using a “Recent Posts” widget, to go to the editing screen and change the number of posts to 11. So that you have a table of contents for your collection.)
Writing in an Endangered World: Texts and Contexts
The Reception of Silent Spring
Sounds and Silence
(Re)Reading Silent Spring
Something Startles Me Where I thought I was Safest
Language, Discourse, Values
Turtle Island: The Real Work
The Language of Environmentalism
Consider This: Language as Wild
Wendell Berry on Imagination
We are All In
Two Dimensional Dreams
Notes Toward an Ecological Identity
Thinking about Wildness
A Piece of the World
Personal Connections: Where to Begin?
The Effortless Murder of the Natural World
Reaching a Larger Audience: A Reflection on Silent Spring
Tumble us Like Scree
Human Pride is a Dangerous Thing
Playing with Fire
Diseased Bodies, Diseased Planet
A Woman Amongst Men
What on Earth is Wild?
The Transparent Eyeball
Writing in an Endangered World: The Task we are Charged With
Rachel Carson: The Power of Example
Gary Snyder: Asking Questions
Wendell Berry: The More We Know, The More We Wonder
Nature and Poetry
Waters of Change
Terry Tempest Williams: Seeing the Truth in Death
Monkey Wrenching: The Tools of the Trade
Gary Snyder: Mediation in Motion
Academic Excellence Conference: An Invitation My involvement with the development of your thinking and writing this semester has convinced me, again and again, that your work has enormous public value. It is difficult to imagine a set of questions more important for people to be thinking about today than has been raised in the reading we have done together this semester. For these reasons, I am volunteering to sponsor individuals or perhaps a panel at the Academic Excellence conference this spring. The opportunity would be to feature the work you have done in the course and perhaps to share with the audience the experience of writing beyond the standard so-called academic essay, and in the public domain.
The 2018 AEC is on Saturday April 14. The deadline for submissions is Monday December 4. Who is in?