Literature and the Environment

The reader-response papers require no research or works-cited page.  These papers are to provide a venue for readers to synthesize the literature and develop informed observations and opinions about the natural environment and the role of humans in that environment.  All Reader-response papers must be completed and submitted to be eligible to pass this course.  Reader-response  papers must be at least three (3) paragraphs long (5-8 sentences per paragraph, average)*, establish a thesis and provide specific details and examples from the readings that validate thesis.  These papers must assert a specific authorial position on one or more of the works read for the week, explain/support that authorial position, and use an acceptable manuscript format (MLA, APA, CBE/CSE). No research is used for these papers–reader-response only.  Part One —  THE HUMAN ANIMAL Our notions of nature start with how we see ourselves and other creatures.    Chapter 1,  OUR ANIMAL SELVES What is wild and instinctual in our nature, and how do we respond to it?  How does this response influence our relations with the outer world? 1.     Mary Oliver, The Honey Tree Clambering up a tree in search of honey, Oliver exalts in the joy of bodily appetite. 2.     Annie Dillard Living Like Weasels A startling encounter with a weasel reminds Dillard of the wisdom of living purely in the senses.  3.     Kent Nelson, Irregular Flight  In pursuit of a bird rarely seen in the vicinity, two scientists experience their own mysterious flights of desire. 4.     Lisa Couturier, Snow Day Two city women follow the deeper stirrings of their bodies and tast the sweet earth that raised them. 5.     Jack London To Build a Fire A man traveling in the Yukon on a bitterly cold day pays the price of ignoring his dog’s and his own instinctual wisdom. 6.     John Burroughs, Human Traits in the Animals The first popularizer of the nature essays reflects on the extent to which animals share with us “the ground or basement story of the house of life.” 7.     John Freeman, Not So Fast Is it the certainty of our own death that we are soothing with “the simulated busyness of email addiction?”

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