Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Collins) 9780060953027
Hacker, Diana. Pocket Style Manual (Bedford) 978-0312664800
Horton, Tom. Bay Country (John Hopkins) 9780801848759
Leopold, Aldo. Sand County Almanac (Ballantine) 9780345345053
Matthiessen, Peter. The Snow Leopard (Viking Penguin) 9780143105510
McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature (Random House) 9780812976083
Nichols, Ashton. Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting (Palgrave Macmillan) 9781137033944
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Writings (Norton Critical) 978039393090
Web assignments and handouts as needed
(all texts must be in these editions)
This course will seek to understand connections between Henry David Thoreau and the tradition of environmental writing that he began in America. This focus will allow us to engage a number of important questions that confront students and scholars interested in the tradition of environmental literature in America, the sources of that tradition in a wider American culture, and the impact of that tradition on the current environmental movement, nationally and internationally. From the preservation of wild lands to debates about global warming, from the desire to conserve and protect animal species to the need to make use of natural resources for the betterment of human life and communities, we will explore the ways environmental literature has played a crucial role in the development of these ideas. The course will focus attention on a variety of critical approaches and literary methods (formalist, historicist, feminist, and ecocritical–among others) and will help students to develop more sophisticated research skills as they move toward their senior thesis projects. Students will write one short diagnostic essay (8-10 pp.) of careful textual analysis, focusing on a single chapter in Walden. They will also produce one longer research essay (12-15 pp.) which may or may not form the basis for their senior thesis in 404.
Websites Useful for the Study of Thoreau and Amercian Nature Writing
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Students will prepare two (2) discussion introductions during the semester. Students will also be active participants in a seminar conducted almost entirely as a conversation. Students will write one essay (8-10 pp.) on any chapter in Walden, giving special attention to the methodological underpinnings of their argument. Each student will also produce a longer research essay (12-15 pp.) on some aspect of our work this semester. Topics will be developed in class and in individual conferences. A draft will be discussed with me. The final essay will be due by 12 noon on Saturday, December 14. Students must complete all of these requirements in order to receive credit for the course. The Dickinson plagiarism policy will be strictly enforced.
Grading will be based on the following scale:
Participation First Essay Research Essay Research
20% 30% 40% 10% =100%
Students will come to class prepared to discuss the following readings on the assigned days. Brief oral or written assignments may assess your preparation. In addition, each student will prepare a discussion introduction for two (2) of our classes (sign-up sheet to be circulated in class).
27 Introduction: Thoreau and American Nature Writing–Our Syllabus as a Text, English 403
3 Walden 5-137
10 Walden 137-224 & Journal 319-349
17 “Civil Disobedience,” “Walking” & apparatus
24 Library Class: Research Introduction by Elise Ferer (FIRST ESSAY DUE)
1 Aldo Leopold
8 Annie Dillard
15 Peter Mattheissen
22 MIDTERM PAUSE (NO CLASS)
25 Tom Horton
5 (RESEARCH ABSTRACT DUE)
12 Bill McKibben
19 Ashton Nichols
26 Student Research topics (BIBLIOGRAPHY DUE)
3 RESEARCH & WRITING WEEK
14—Saturday—FINAL ESSAY DUE: 12:00 noon (NO LATE PAPERS ACCEPTED)
NOTE: (404 provisional abstracts are due before you leave for break)
First Essay: Your first essay (8-10 pp.) will offer a careful analysis of any chapter from Walden. It can be a chapter that we discussed in deatail in class or any other chapter you choose. Your essay should suggest why this chapter is valuable to your understanding of the entire text. The essay should also describe the interpretive approach or approaches (formalist, textual, historical, biographical, feminist, ecocritical) that your analysis relies on and should suggest why this particular means of interpretation is helpful for our understanding of this chapter. Due at the start of class on October 1. No late papers.
The research essay is your major graded piece of work for this course. You should begin thinking about the topic for your essay as soon as possible so that your draft will be in as complete a form as possible by the time of your meeting with me. I will ask for an abstract (2 paragraphs: What will you prove? How will you prove it?) of your proposed research essay on November 1. A working annotated bibliography of research sources (consulted or considered) will be due on November 22. Drafts of your essay may be discussed with me from November 22 to December 15, and your final essay will be due at 12:00 noon on Friday, December 17. No late papers.
The Walden text chosen for use in the course is a useful starting place for your research. It includes scholarly texts, historical and biographical information, as well as collections of critical essays from various interpretive perspectives. In addition, several of our volumes provide information that can help you select a topic for your essay, focus that topic, and begin to produce your draft. Successful completion of this project will demand careful library research and thoughtful attention to the details of your own critical writing style. You will find a list of web based resources to help you with your research and writing in the on-line version of this syllabus.
We will also use class-time to discuss the selection of your topic, the preparation of your bibliography, and the writing of your first draft. We will use discussions of our authors to focus your critical method, and we will evaluate different approaches to interpretive problems posed by these texts. Class work will include peer discussion of topics and research tools as well as sessions for troubleshooting and problem solving as drafts are being discussed. The goal of all of our work on this essay will be to give you tools and opportunities to develop your skills as a critical writer and researcher. Sites that will help in your work as a researcher and writer of scholarly essays include:
Students will also be using their work this semester to help them decide about the larger project which they plan to research in depth during our spring term 404. The general assumption is that you will use your research this semester as a jumping off point for your independent work next semester, but you may also change directions entirely until the due date of your final prospectus (January 2011). You should also be thinking about a project that would sustain the sort of work you begin this semester over the course of our full-semester worth of work in 404.
The Dickinson plagiarism policy will be strictly enforced. This class adheres to the college’s Community Standards, which clearly state: “Students are expected to do their own work. Work submitted in fulfillment of academic assignments and provided on examinations is expected to be original by the student submitting it.” Please review the Community Standards document for more information.
Statement on Disability Services:
In compliance with the Dickinson College policy and equal access laws, I am available to discuss requests made by students with disabilities for academic accommodations. Such requests must be verified in advance by the Coordinator of Disability Services who will provide a signed copy of an accommodation letter, which must be presented to me prior to any accommodations being offered. Requests for academic accommodations should be made during the first three weeks of the semester (except for unusual circumstances) so that timely and appropriate arrangements can be made.
Students requesting accommodations are required to register with Disability Services, located in Academic Advising, first floor of Biddle House. Please contact Marni Jones, Coordinator of Disability Services (at ext. 1080 or firstname.lastname@example.org ) to verify their eligibility for reasonable and appropriate accommodations.
Keep in Touch
Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time during the semester to discuss the course, our research, your writing, or your grade.
Professor Ashton Nichols, Class meetings: 1:30-4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Kaufman 178
Office Hours: M & F 9:30-11:30, T 12 noon-1:30 p.m. and by appt.