Fall Quarter 2004
Comparative Literature 596/English 559
Living in Place: Literature and the Environment

Course Overview

This course is designed as an introduction to the field of ecocriticism, the area of literary studies that examines the relation between literary texts and environmental issues. Ecocriticism grows in part out of a longstanding critical interest in the topic of nature and its representation in literary texts; it differs in adopting a more contemporary sense of the ecological relation between human beings and the environments they inhabit. We will be surveying some of the critical literature in this field-reading a number of essays that attempt to define the field, as well as longer studies by Jonathan Bate and Lawrence Buell-and examining a number of primary texts to consider how ecocriticism might work in practice: literary texts by such figures as Daniel Defoe, Jean Jacques Rousseau, William Wordsworth, William Faulkner and Leslie Marmon Silko, along with several autobiographical works with an environmental focus (Rachel Carson, Terry Tempest Williams and Devra Davis). Required work includes occasional weekly response papers and either a long final essay or a series of six short critical essays.