Below is a basic list of readings for Hist 315/Enst 311. Please contact the instructor if you would like to see a complete syllabus.

Reading schedule

Week One: Introduction: What Is Environmental History?

  • J. Donald Hughes, “Defining Environmental History” (2006)
  • Donald Worster, “Nature and the Disorder of History.” Environmental History Review 18. No. 2 (1994): 1-15.
  • William Cronon, “The Uses of Environmental History.” Environmental History Review 17, no. 3 (1993): 1-22.

Week Two: What is Communism? And, Creating a Sense of Place

  • Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto. Excerpts.

Week Three: Ideology and Environment

  • Lewis Hinchman and Sandra Hinchman, “Should Environmentalists Reject the Enlightenment?,” Review of Politics 64.4 (2001)
  • Malthus, “On the principle of population,” Excerpts.
  • Victor Ferkiss, “Marxist Socialism, Nature, and Technology,” in Nature, Technology and Society: The Cultural Roots of the Current Environmental Crisis (1993).
  • Engels, introduction to Dialectics of Nature.

Week Four: The Soviet Union I

  • Mark Bassin, “Geographical Determinism in Fin-de-siècle Marxism: Georgii Plakhanov and the Environmental Basis of Russian History,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 82.1 (1992).
  • Brief excerpts from the writings of Lenin.
  • Richard Stites, “Man the Machine,” Chapter 7 of Revolutionary Dreams (1989).
  • Richard Stites, “Utopia in Space: City and Building,” Chapter 9 of Revolutionary Dreams (1989).

Week Five: The Soviet Union II: Policy and Practice

  • Nikolai Dronin and Edward Bellinger, Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900-1990 (2005), excerpts.
  • Murray Fleshbach and Alfred Friendly, Jr., Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature Under Siege (1992), excerpts.
  • J. Donald Hughes, “Bryansnk: the aftermath of Chernobyl,” in An Environmental History of the World, 193-199 (2002).

Week Six: The Soviet Union III: Conservation and Representations

  • Oleg Yanitsky, “Russian Environmental Movements,” in Jill Conway et al., eds., Earth, Air, Fire, Water (1999)
  • Douglas Weiner, “Student Movements: Catalysts for a New Activism,” chapter 14 of A Little Corner of Freedom (1999) 312-339. 
  • Valentin Rasputin, one or more short stories. TBA.

Week Seven: Soviet Forced Labor & On to China

  • Andy Bruno, “Industrial Life in a Limiting Landscape: An Environmental Interpretation of Stalinist Social Conditions in the Far North,” IRSH 55 (2010): 153-174.
  • Judith Shapiro, Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China (2001), excerpts.
  • Mao Zedong, selections from speeches and writings


Week Nine: China II: Disasters and Possibilities

  • Judith Shapiro, Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China (2001), excerpts.
  • Chen Gang, Politics of China’s Environmental Protection: Problems and Progress (2009), excerpts.

Week Ten: Cuba I: Before the Soviet collapse

  • Fidel Castro, selections from speeches and writings.
  • Che Guevara, selections from speeches and writings. 
  • Sergio Díaz-Biquets and Jorge Pérez-López, Conquering Nature: The Environmental Legacy of Socialism in Cuba (1999), excerpts.

Week Eleven: Cuba II: After the collapse

  • Daniel Whittle and Orlando Rey Santos, “Protecting Cuba’s Environment” (2006)
  • Sinan Koont, “The Urban Agriculture of Havana” (2009)

Week Twelve: Eastern Europe, before and after

  • Raymond Dominick, “Capitalism, Communism and Environmental Protection: Lessons from the German Experience” (1998)
  • Richard Caddell, “Nature Conservation in Estonia: From Soviet Union to European Union” (2009)
  • Melissa Caldwell, Dacha Idylls: Living Organically in Russia’s Countryside (2011). Excerpts. 

Week Thirteen: Marxist Environmentalism Today

  • John Bellamy Foster, The Vulnerable Planet

Week Fourteen: Sustainable Agriculture in Pennsylvania

  • Judson Jerome, Families of Eden: Communes and the New Anarchism (1974). Excerpts.
  • Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Excerpts.

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