Writing About Nature
Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Harper Perennial. 2007. Fergus, Charles. Wildlife of Pennsylvania. Stackpole Books. 2000. Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual 5th edition. Bedford St. Martin’s. 2011. Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. Ballantine. 1986. Nichols, Ashton. Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting. Palgrave Macmillan. 2012. –all in paper, all in these editions
Course Aims and Expectations:
This course is designed to improve your skills as a writer of expository prose by emphasizing the genre of nature writing. We will concentrate on a variety of writing problems and techniques, emphasizing specific skills necessary to a wide range of writing tasks: description, narration, analysis, and interpretation. In all cases, our focus will be on the natural world and human connections to that world. Discussions of essay reading assignments will be supplemented by workshop sessions and individual tutorials. Students will have the opportunity to critique one another’s work and to compare their essays to works by nature writers of the past two centuries. The course aims to concentrate your attention on the precise stylistic details that lead to effective writing.
–All essays must be typed: one-inch margins, double-spaced –Assignments will specify a precise length for each essay –Essays must be stapled or paper-clipped together –Title page must include title, author’s name, and date –Essays are due in class at 3:00 p.m. on the date indicated in the syllabus –Final essays must be brought to class –NO LATE PAPERS (or drafts) WILL BE ACCEPTED
See also Web Sites for Nature Writers:
Essay 1 2 3 4 Rev #1 In-Class Journal Exam-Rev #2
10 10 10 10 20 10 10 20 = 100%
Students must complete all of these requirements to receive credit for the course.
Class Meetings, Reading, & Essays Due: M Th 3:00 p.m., Kaufman 178 ____________________________________________________________
Sept. 1 M: First class. 3:00 p.m.-4:15 p.m. Kaufman 178. Our syllabus as a text. 4 Th: Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac. xiii-xix, pp. 3-137. Good nature writing? ______________________ 8 M: Essay #1 due (a natural object: assignment sheet attached). 11 Th In-class exercise (sentences from student essays). Hacker, “Clarity,” pp. 1-19 __________________________ 15 M Aldo Leopold, pp. 138 to end. Hacker, “Grammar,” pp. 20-56 18 Th Essay #1 revised (a natural object). Hand in for a final grade. Workshop. _______________________ 22 M Annie Dillard pp. 1-137 23 Th Annie Dillard pp. 137-end _______________________ 29 M Vocabulary. Bring nature journal to class. Hacker, “Punctuation,” pp. 57-78 Oct. 2 Th Continue nature journal sentences.Survey nature writing journals online. ________________________ Oct. 6 M In-class exercise: “To see the wind with a man his eyes.” Hacker, “Mechanics,” pp. 79-90 9 Th NO CLASS Essay # 2 due (narration) (submit electronically to me by 4:15 p.m.) ________________________ 13 M Charles Fergus, Wildlife of Pennsylvania. Pick a single CAPITALIZED SECTION from this book [ex. COYOTE, ELK, PUDDLE DUCKS, WILD TURKEY, LAND SALAMANDERS, POND AND MARSH TURTLES, WATER SNAKE]). At the start of class hand in a single double-spaced page about why this entry in Fergus’s book is well-written, using examples of language as details; then be prepared with notes to tell the class why your entry is well-written. 16 Th Fergus, continuation with more examples from class. __________________________ 20 M FALL PAUSE 23 Th Bring a well-written paragraph about nature from the web to class (16 copies, not a writer we are reading this term—cut and paste it on a blank sheet or type it out). __________________________ 27 M Fieldtrip to Farm – meet at Kaufman CSE lobby (next to Public Safety) 30 Th Your field journal as a text. Bring you best paragraph, typed with copies for 16. __________________________ November 3 M More paragraphs from journals. 6 Th Essay #3 due: analyze Leopold’s or Dillard’s style. Animal rights: class positions. __________________________ M 10 Ashton Nicholsxiii-xxiii and 1-101 13 Th Ashton Nichols 103-end __________________________________ 17 M Tom Horton: http://www.bayjournalnewsservice.com/article.php?artnum=260&More=More http://www.bayjournalnewsservice.com/article.php?artnum=265&More=More http://www.bayjournalnewsservice.com/article.php?artnum=263&More=More 20 Th Tom Horton visits class ___________________________________ 24 M Essay #4 (bring draft notes for Essay #4) Hacker, Glossaries, pp. 231-249 27 Th Thanksgiving ___________________________________ December 1 M Ancient Views of Nature: In-Class Writing 4 Th Modern Views of Nature: In-Class Writing ___________________________________ 8 M 1st Revision Due in Kaufman 192 2:00 P.M. (Essays 2-4) 11 Th Last Class, Essay #4 due (animal rights: interpretation) December 19 Fri FINAL EXAM (2nd Revision) Kaufman 192 by 12:00 noon ———————————————————————————————————-
Professor Ashton Nichols Kaufman 192 T TH 11:45 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. and by appt.
Accommodating Students with Disabilities
Dickinson College makes reasonable academic accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Students requesting accommodations must make their request and provide appropriate documentation to Disability Services in Biddle House. Because classes change every semester, eligible students must obtain a new accommodation letter from Director Marni Jones every semester and review this letter with their professors so the accommodations can be implemented. The Director of Disability Services is available by appointment to answer questions and discuss any implementation issues you may have. Disability Services proctoring is managed by Susan Frommer at 717-254-8107 or email@example.com. Address general inquiries to Stephanie Anderberg at 717-245-1734 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. ________________________________________________________________________
NATURAL HISTORY FIELD JOURNAL
For our “Writing About Natural History” class, you will keep your own natural history journal. It begins today and ends on the final day of classes, when it will be handed in to me. This journal will describe, narrate, analyze, interpret and otherwise create an experiential and intellectual record of your experiences with the nonhuman world during our entire semester. This field journal will have no length requirement; it must, however, be complete. This journal can include days in Carlisle, days away from Carlisle, dreams you have had, solo experiences, group experiences, and conversations with family (Fall Pause, Thanksgiving, etc.) You are encouraged to share your journal with your classmates, with other students, with professors, or with your family. You should feel free to ask me for advice or suggestions during the term, and you should feel free to copy “commonplace” selections into your own journal (that would mean quotes from Annie Dillard, Aldo Leopold, Charles Fergus, or your humble professor, as well as reading you are doing in any other class or simply on your own); just make sure that you always indicate when the words you write down in your journal are not your own. Consider all of our texts, classes, and discussions as source material for your own journal writing. Writing is a social and cultural practice. Your own writing always benefits when you see yourself as part of a reading and writing group of interested literate individuals. I may collect these journals at any time during the semester. I may ask to see the journal—individually or collectively—on any day, maybe this Thursday! I may ask you to read aloud from your journal on any day our class meets. I may ask you to make use of your journal for additional formal or informal writing exercises. In short, this writing will be an ongoing component of your work for this class. In addition to your four formal (graded) essays and two formal revisions, this journal will form the basis for the bulk of your writing during the term. Let your journal be influenced by the other writing we do in and for class. Let your style be influenced by the readings we are doing and reading that you are doing for your other classes. Take advice from your classmates, or ignore it; take advice from me and your other professors. Keep your journal in a separate notebook that can be handed in to me or can be shared among your classmates at any time. It must be written in ink (longhand or printed), or printed out on computer sheets that can be included in a journal format. You can keep your rough notes or drafts elsewhere. Your journal should be work that you would want to read aloud to the class or that someone else could read aloud. I will collect these on December 11 for the last time and will hand them back to you at the Final Exam. Let me know if you have questions. ********************************************
A Natural Object
Spend at least one uninterrupted hour observing a natural object. The object can be large (star, sun, cloud, mountain), small (grain of sand, flower, ant, leaf) or in between (stream, tree, turkey vulture, rock). Your object should be one that had not been shaped or visibly affected by humans. You should observe it as carefully as possible. Do not engage in any other activity during your observation. No Walkmans! What did you learn as a result of this experience? Write a three to four typed pages essay that explains to the members of our class what you knew at the end of this hour that you did not know before your observation began. Write with care and attention to the precise details of your experience. Your essay should have a thesis (a central controlling idea) and a clear organizational principle (chronological, psychological association, logical progression). Avoid errors of grammar, syntax, and spelling. Proofread you work carefully. This essay is due at the start of class on Monday, September 8 at 3:00 p.m. It should be typed, double spaced, and should have a title page that includes a title that you have composed, your name, and the date.