2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Writing Nature, Writing "Race"


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Chico Herbison American studies
Fields of Study
American studies, cultural studies, environmental studies, history, literature and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
the humanities, writing, education, and environmental studies.

"What then, is Earth to American people of color?" (Alison H. Deming and Lauret E. Savoy, The Colors of Nature )

This two quarter program explores nature writing by people of color in the United States. Deming and Savoy provide an eloquent and passionate starting point, as well as critical unifying themes and issues, for our exploration: "[if nature writing] examines human perceptions and experiences of nature, if an intimacy with and response to the larger-than-human world define who or what we are, if we as people are part of nature, then the experiences of all people on this land are necessary stories, even if some voices have been silent, silenced, or simply not recognized as nature writing."

We will begin our quest by addressing the many meanings of "nature" and, by extension, "nature writing." Our journey's next phase will involve an introduction to, and brief overview of, the American nature writing tradition. Students will read selections from some of the country's best-known nature writers, including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Mary Hunter Austin, Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Barry Lopez, Annie Dillard and Terry Tempest Williams. Fall quarter will conclude with introductory readings on the historical and cultural relationships between people of color and nature. Students will engage with program readings, not only to develop a stronger appreciation of, and respect for, nature writing, but also to strengthen their critical thinking, reading and academic writing skills.

In winter quarter, our selection of texts will foreground major works of nature writing by people of color, including writings by Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, Ruth Ozeki, Percival Everett, and by those anthologized in Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry . Students will continue to hone their academic writing skills; however, they will have the opportunity to explore "the colors of nature" through a variety of other writing forms: fiction, poetry, music lyrics, and creative nonfiction, among others. By winter quarter's end, students will be equipped to respond, in a variety of ways, to that question posed above: "What then, is Earth to American people of color?" Only at that point can we begin to address the enduring question, "What then, is Earth to all people?"

Program activities will include lectures, workshops, seminars, film screenings, guest presentations and field trips. Students should be prepared to devote at least twice as many hours outside of class, as those spent in class, to program readings, writing and other assignments.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$100 in fall and $150 in winter for field trips.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 3rd, 2012 This program is not accepting new enrollment.
November 26th, 2012 Winter fees increased.