2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

The Opening Of The Field: Ecopoetics, Ecology and Ideas

CANCELLED Last Updated: 04/15/2008

Winter and Spring quarters

Faculty: Nalini Nadkarni ecology, Leonard Schwartz poetry, creative writing

Major areas of study include poetics, writing and ecology.

Class Standing: This all-level program accepts up to 25% freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.

During this program, we will examine the dual disciplines of poetics and forest ecology. What do literary texts and ecosystems hold in common? They are both complex systems, in which all elements are interrelated. In language, a single word added or removed can potentially alter the balance of rhythm, image, and meaning in that text. In the case of ecosystems, lack or surplus of mineral elements, energy, or diversity can alter the structure and function of components.

What do scientists understand by the term “nature"? How have poets and philosophers understood that same word? What might we learn by juxtaposing or combining these two ways of knowing the world that would not be achieved if each were considered separately? Can we apply any of the products of combining the two to evoking a sense of conservation or stewardship in human attitudes towards ecosystems?

We will not so much be studying “nature poetry” as we will be working with the language that scientists use to investigate and understand ecology. We wish to arrive at new ways of talking about texts that do not break them into tiny pieces or create simplistic chains of cause and effect. Similarly, scientists can think through issues of poetics in order to challenge some of their own paradigms and tropes. In this program, we will give consideration to the process of combining the disciplines of poetics and ecology.

Field trips will include 3-day visits and data gathering in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula Hoh and Quinault River valleys and the temperate coniferous forests of the H.J. Andrews Experimental forest in the western Cascades of Oregon. We will also attend poetry readings in Seattle and other locations. Students will work individually and in small groups to gain research skills that will include advanced access to library sources, field techniques for gathering and analyzing ecological data, and learning how to read deeply scientific and poetic texts. All students will be involved with a large group project in our campus forest.

The program will involve two tracks or emphases for students of different backgrounds: one for students most interested in poetry, the other for those most interested in science/ecology. However, there will be many opportunities for synthesis and interdisciplinary study and projects.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 48

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Special Expenses: $400 for field trips to study sites and readings in Washington; $200 in workshop fees; $600 total. Overnight field trip costs include van rental, park fees, and lodging and food costs. Reading costs include transportation and entry to professional poetry readings in Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in creative writing, science and ecology.

Planning Units: Programs for Freshmen, Culture, Text and Language, Environmental Studies

Program Revisions

Date Revision
April 15th, 2008 This program has been cancelled. For an alternative program, please see Prolegomena to a Future Poetics.