The provisional schedule below is designed to help guide our work together this semester. It is important that you check the schedule at the beginning of each week, as the schedule is provisional, and your reading and writing responsibilities will change as we make our way. Our intellectual work will necessitate adjustments as we make decisions about the work we are doing in the course.

The schedule includes all of the reading as well as the prompts for your writing. The writing prompts are not written as directives or as assignments. Rather they are suggestions for your essays. Each week we will talk about the essays you are writing, the standpoint from which you are writing, and the integrity of the work you are producing on the blog. We also do a series of writing workshops in class.

Week 1 What is environmental writing? What is environmentalism?

Tuesday August 29

Introduction to course: Writing in an Endangered World
Introduction of students: Objects, and Artifacts
Pedagogy and method: Open Education and KSC Open

Thursday August 31

An Introduction to Environmental Writing

Setting up a domain on KSC Open (don’t forget your laptop or tablet)

Installing Word Press and building a course blog. Word Press dashboard: themes, pages, media options, widgets, categories, tags, etc.audience and genre, privacy, agency and control, copyright and licensing. Design and using the Word Press Codex

For writing (Post on your blog no later than midnight on Friday): Your work is to find something interesting to say about the issues, questions, and literary history we are beginning to study together, and then to say it. Be smart. Be interesting. Be engaging. Engage your reader with a question you have, or a question that might be shared by a reader. For example: What did we learn listening to the introductions and objects and artifacts? What was it like to consider, with Barry Lopez, the cultural legacy of colonialism and the challenges facing people living in an endangered world? How do I understand myself and my relationship to the more-than-human world—to natural and built environments, to places like cities, forests, ponds, oceans, animals, gardens, wilderness areas, parks? What is environmental writing? What is environmentalism? How might we think about environmental writing in relationship to the social movement of environmentalism? What can we learn by studying environmental concern in the twentieth century through forms of journalism, advertising, music, popular culture?

Week 2 How do we understand North American environmentalism as part of a global history? What does environmentalism look like when we see it as a cultural formation and movement in developing and developed countries–both in the global north as well as the global south?

Tuesday September 5

Before we meet, read the posts on the course blog. Comment on any of the posts, if you are so moved. you are welcome to comment on the posts each week. Your thoughtful comments and connections are wonderful

A Prologue: Mark will do a reading of Barry Lopez’ 1990 Thomas D. Clark Lectures, The Rediscovery of North America. (A copy of Barry Lopez’s lectures, published as the book The Rediscovery of North America, is in the main collection of the Mason Library. The call number is E27.5 .L67 1990. Sections of the book are also available at Google Books.)

Read Ramachandra Guha, “Part One: Environmentalism’s First Wave,” in Environmentalism: A Global History, 1-62. As you read, note the mention of the writers Guha mentions, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, Alexander von Humboldt, Dietrich Brandis, George Perkins Marsh, Miguel Angel de Quevedo

Presentation on American literary environmentalism from John Muir to Rachel Carson

Thursday September 7

Wool Gathering

Ramanchandra Guha, Environmentalism: A Global History

Workshop on Domain of One’s Own

Identity: Take ownership of your presence on the web. Express your ideas. Integrate your learning and interests.

Fluency: Use open-source platforms. Build projects using digital tools. Create portfolios, exhibits, galleries, blogs, or wikis.

Citizenship: Engage with the community. Construct the web. Navigate, and critically question digital technologies.

Writing Workshop

Know what you are doing and do it well

For writing: What specifically can we learn from Guha’s description of the first wave of environmentalism? Rather than a summary of Guha (we have read him as you have), consider writing about a part of his text and perhaps move Guha’s commentary into your own understanding, or other texts/contexts, perhaps by linking your reader to other materials either by quoting or by using a hyperlink.

The other writing you might do is to consider one of the forms of environmental concern in one or more media. What cultural artifacts make visible the discourse / rhetoric / claims / values of the environmental movement in the United States from the second half of the twentieth century to the present? Start with the Media Archive page on this course blog. Or consider photographs, advertisements, images, missions statements, manifestos, film, music, dance, etc.

Read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The book is 300 pages. (About 50 pages each day if you want to complete the reading by Tuesday, fewer pages if you want complete the book by Thursday next week).

Week 3  How do books shape how we think about ourselves, other people, and the world around us? How do we learn to read and make use of nonfiction (essays, memoir), poetry, and fiction? How do we learn to use different kinds of books as a personal, community, and cultural resource? How might we define and value a literary tradition of writers dedicated to exploring the human and more-than-human world? 

Tuesday September 12

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. We will discuss Chapters 1-11. 1-184. Discussion Partners: Madison and Chelsea

Read Mark Stoll’s virtual exhibition, Silent Spring, A Book that Changed the World, for an overview of the global reception and impact of Silent Spring as well as the book’s legacy in popular culture, music, literature, and the arts.

Read Frank Graham’s assessment of public responses to Carson’s science writing, as well as the more general problem of new scientific evidence, Fifty Years After Silent Spring, Assault on Science Continues.

Think about Carson’s writing and the popular movement of environmentalism in the United States. Look at the cultural materials on the Media Archive of this course blog and consider environmentalism as a social movement, as well as the social and cultural formations of environmental concern: writing, advertisements, television, music, film

Thursday September 14

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring. We will discuss Chapters 12-17. Discussion partners: Ethan and Devon (Coffey)

Writing Workshop #1

For writing: Think (and consider writing about) a question about writing in an endangered world. Write about Silent Spring or use Silent Spring as a case study in addressing one or more of the questions above. The affective range of Carson’s language is of great interest to us in this course as we seek to understand the discourse of environmental thinking in the period from 1960 to the present. For it is not only the words, phrases and sentences that give language power: it is the way these terms function within a discourse  and at the same time express a set of values.

Begin reading Gary Snyder, Turtle Island

Week 4 How does Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island use language to clarify our relationship to the earth?

Tuesday September 19

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island. Discussion Partners: Roy and Colby

Reading: spend time reading and getting to know Turtle Island.  Go to the Workshop Page. In our first writing workshop I focused your attention as writers on the purpose of the piece of writing. The evidence from fifteen essays was that a direct and accessible statement of purpose is difficult to pick out in most of your writing.  Your essays on Rachel Carson once again suggest this difficulty once again. Your job is to revise your essay to make the purpose more direct and accessible–first to you as a writer and second for the benefit of a reader. In most cases will likely move these sentences to start your piece of writing and then revise (title, paragraphs, discussion) accordingly. 

Thursday September 21

Gary Snyder, Turtle Island. Discussion Partners: Kate and Nick

Write about the language of Turtle Island. How does Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island use language to clarify our relationship to the earth? Describe and discuss a poem or essay. Consider starting with a quotation or excerpt, or one of Snyder’s questions (perhaps use as an epigraph to your essay) in his book the Practice of the Wild. For example, “How do we encourage and develop an ethic that goes beyond intrahuman obligations and includes nonhuman nature” (“A Village Council of All Beings”); “Where do we start to resolve the dichotomy of the civilized and the wild?” (“The Etiquette of Freedom”). Or take a comment from another text, author, or context. For instance, the literary critic Richard Kerridge: “The real, material ecological crisis, then, is also a cultural crisis, a crisis of representation. The inability of political cultures to address environmentalism is in part a failure of narrative.”

Begin reading Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Week 5 What is the relationship between the ecological crisis and character? What is the relationship between the ecological crisis and agriculture? What is the relationship between the ecological crisis and culture? 

Individual Conferences this week. Notes on how to prepare and sign up on the Conference Prep post.

Tuesday September 26

Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. Read chapters 1-7, or pages 1-140. Discussion Partners: Ariel and Meaghan

Thursday September 28

Writing Workshop #2

We will continue our discussions of The Unsettling of America. Have a look, too, at Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (1975). A promotional blurb is available at the New York Review of Books site and you can read from an earlier translation of the book here.

Ramanchandra Guha, “Part Two: Environmentalism’s Second Wave (Prologue and Chapter 5) in Environmentalism: A Global History, 63-97.

Write about The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. This book is a formidable example of cultural critique and an instructive example of an unflinching moral perspective on how we think and how we live our lives. Think with Berry. You may write about what you want to understand. But I want you to write with understanding and confidence.

We will stake out some to talk about your writing in our second in-class writing workshop this Thursday. Let me suggest that you consider writing about one of the questions for the week (that correspond to the titles of the first three chapters of the book: What is the relationship between the ecological crisis and character? What is the relationship between the ecological crisis and agriculture? What is the relationship between the ecological crisis and culture? 

Week 6  How do we address what wendell Berry calls the “essential complexities” of our lives? Who Am I? Where am I? What is happening? What happens when a culture loses the capacity to think particular questions? What are the consequences of “moral ignorance”?

Due Sunday at midnight: Essay on The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Editorial Assistants On Thursdays during Weeks 6-11 our writing workshops will continue. But we will be adding the insights of two editorial assistants each week. The editorial assistants are responsible for 1) reading all of the essays posted on Sunday; 2) comparing notes on the essays (either in a face-to-face meeting or an email exchange); 3) sending Mark a written summary of one effective writing strategy or a suggestion for revision, with 2-3 examples, by noon on Thursday; and 4) sharing with the class a brief summary of your editorial insights. I am happy to meet with the editorial assistants before class or talk by email if that will help in preparing for this class responsibility.

Editorial Assistants for this week: Madison and Chelsea

Tuesday October 3

Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture.  Discussion Partners: Mickayla

As we continue our discussion of these essays, learn a bit more about Wendell Berry’s Life and Work, and read some of his selected poems, at the Poetry Foundation.

Self Assessment #1 Due: send email with attachment of the completed self-evaluation form to Mark by noon. ENST 363 ENG 390 self assessment.

Optional Learning Opportunity: Screeing of film Soil, 6pm, Stonewall Farm. Facilitated audience discussion to follow. This is the first event in The Natural and Cultural History of Soil, a series featuring McArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, Dr. David R. Montgomery, the author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (2007), The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health (2016, with Anne Bilké) Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life (2017).

Thursday October 5

Writing Workshop #3

Guha, “Part Two: Environmentalism’s Second Wave (Chapters 6-8) in Environmentalism: A Global History, 98-145

An essay that takes up a conceptual/practical question and that builds out a satisfying answer to the question: how does a reader (you, the writer, and your readers, some of whom have not read this material) make connections among  the ideas of Carson, Snyder, and Berry? Please take on a part not the whole (for instance, what they say about the body, or health, or the land, or knowledge, or specialized knowledge, or education, or. . . .)

Begin reading Linda Hogan, Solar Storms. 

Week 7 

What constitutes a “self” or an “identity?” And what do we mean by the world or the word “nature?” How might we use answers to these questions to understand ourselves, others, and the world around us? What are the relations between sustainability, diversity and equity? In what ways can we think together the concerns of ecology, economics, democracy?

Tuesday October 10

Linda Hogan, Solar Storms. Discussion Partners: Alexa and TJ. Editorial Assistants: Ethan and Devon

Thursday October 12

Linda Hogan, Solar Storms. Discussion Partners: Luke and Devon  (Sacca) and Anna

Write about Solar Storms. I am interested in your thinking about the language of this beautiful and haunting narrative. You may also want to take up questions of environmental justice, slow violence, and indigenous or first nation peoples. You may take this essay in whatever direction you choose. One strategy is to historicize the story. How does an awareness of the history of the James Bay hydroelectric project, started in 1971, specifically the government of Quebec’s claim that the ‘”common property resource” of water for all Canadians supplants First Nations claims to the lands, help a reader understand this novel? How does this story help us think with an awareness of (if not sympathy for) the “kind of knowing” Angel begins to form at Adam’s Rib? How does the actual cultural, ecological and environmental complexities of large-scale hydroelectric projects inform a reading of this novel?

Optional Learning Opportunity this week: Keene State College is hosting an event called the Magic of Monadnock: Poetry Bridging Continents Colloquium. This four-day international gathering will bring Chinese and American poets to Keene State College for a cultural exchange open to and involving students, faculty, and the larger community. The colloquium will take place in the College’s Mason Library from October 9-13. The Mason Library’s Monadnock Poetry Special Collections, The Redfern Arts Center, The Thorne Art Gallery, The Integrative Studies Program, and the Division Arts and Humanities will be co-sponsors of the event. The Colloquium will feauture Chinese Poets Zi Chuan (1953-), pen name of Zhang Rong-cai, Hu Xian (1966-), Bu Lan-chen (1970-), pseudonym of Cai Ming-yongZhang Min-gui (1962 -), Mi Zheng-ying (1971-), pseudonym Blue Lotus. Poets from the Monadnock region will include Patricia Fargnoli, Pam Bernard, Jim Beschta, John Hodgen, and Susan Roney-Obrien.

Begin reading Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge. 

Sunday: Writing due. Use the category “Making Connections” for the Week 6 post

Week 8 October 16-20

Solar Storms essay due on Sunday at midnight

This week I will be reading your blogs and assigning midterm grades using the following criteria:

  • Domain and course blog (your Self Assessment #1)
  • Your writing: your blog portfolio of your thinking and writing. In addition to the writing criteria on the self-assessment, I will be looking for you to apply what you have learned about writing in the course. See the Workshop page
  • Your contributions in class your presence, your thinking, your questions, your discussion partner responsibility, your observations as an editorial assistant

Please let me know if you have any questions

Tuesday October 17

Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
Discussion Partners: Madison and Chelsea
Editorial Assistants: Nick and Ariel

Thursday October 19

Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
Discussion Partners: Ethan and

Optional Learning Opportunity: The Natural and Cultural History of Soil: 6pm at Stonewall Farm. Panel Discussion and breakout small group discussion of books by MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, Dr. David R. Montgomery. An internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies, Dr. Montgomery is the author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (2007), The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health (2016, with Anne Bilké) Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life (2017)

Begin reading Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang

Week 9 What is the relationship between the roots of Edward Abbey’s distinctively democratic mode of dissent, his novel, and the legacy of Cactus Ed in the thinking and practice of environmentalism in the United States.

Tuesday October 24

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Discussion Partners: Nick and Ariel
Editorial Assistants: Meghan and Mickayla

Thursday October 26

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Discussion Partners: Anna and Roy

Think about your blog post this week as a way of explaining to a reader (your friend, your dad, a co-worker, whomever) why reading Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang is an experience worth having—no matter where you come out. Make a case. Use evidence from the text and from secondary sources. 

Begin reading Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Week 10 October 30-November 3

Who am I? What a am I doing here? What’s going on? Where do we start to resolve the dichotomy between the civilized and the wild? What is nature? What is wildness? What is the practice of the wild? What is “the etiquette of freedom?”

Sunday: Essay on The Monkey Wrench Gang due

Tuesday October 31

Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild: Essays
Discussion Partners: Meghan and Mickayla
Editorial Assistants: Anna and Roy and Ethan

Thursday November 2

Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild: Essays
Discussion Partners: Colby and Alexa

Friday November 3

Optional learning opportunity:“Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” Dr. David Montgomery, 11 AM, Keene State College Centennial Hall, Alumni Center. Concluding event in The Natural and Cultural History of Soil  featuring McArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, Dr. David R. Montgomery, the author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (2007), The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health(2016, with Anne Bilké) Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life (2017).

Begin reading T. C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain

Week 11 How do multiple voices share equal status (in an unequal society) define the future? On what terms might the people of the world share a common future?

Tuesday November 7

T. C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain
Discussion Partners: TJ and Luke
Editorial Assistants: Colby and Alexa (working with Mark on the sites we have identified and the kinds of work people can do to make their writing more effective

Thursday November 9

T. C. Boyle, The Tortilla Curtain
Discussion Partners: Devon S and Devon C

Complete essay on The Tortilla Curtain and publish on the blog no later than Sunday. Continue curating the writing on your blog.

Week 12 

Tuesday November 14

Editorial workshop: curating the writing on your blog

Project Planning Collaboratory (I)

Thursday November 16

Editorial workshop: curating the writing on your blog

Project Planning Collaboratory (II). Writing the project description. Decisions about how we will use class time during weeks 14 and 15

Complete Preface and publish on the blog no later than Sunday.

Complete one-page Project description and plan and send to Mark by email

Week 13

Monday November 20 Individual Conferences

Tuesday November 21 Individual Conferences (no class meeting)

Thursday November 23 No class meeting: Holiday break

Week 14

Tuesday November 28

Preface discussion. How do you refine and complete this final component of your Writing in an Endangered World blog? Schedule readings.

In class Project Work. Timelines. Also, we need to determine the relationship between the individual projects. Will all of these projects exist on their own? Are their reasons for us to build a project site?

Thursday November 30

In class Project Work. Your job for this class is to bring something tangible that gives us insight into your project–as you conceived it, or as it is defining itself as you continue your work. Show more than tell.

Week 15 

Tuesday December 5

In class Project Work (TBA)

Thursday December 7

In class Project Work (TBA)

Week 16 (Final’s Week)

Monday December 11: Reading Day

I will be in the office and available between 9-3

Thursday December 14: Final Examination 1-3:30

Required class meeting. We will work together to discuss and formulate the class learning outcomes

literature and environmentalism at keene state college

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