Schedule of Readings and Assignments

Week 1

Mar 21: Intro

We’ll review the course aims, assignments, and general plan for our 1/2 semester together. Why do conceptions of “nature” matter?

  • Raymond Williams, “Ideas of Nature” (1980), 67–85.

Mar 23: Considering Nature

  • D. W. Meinig, “The Beholding Eye: Ten Versions of the Same Scene” (1979), 33–48.
  • John Hay, “The Nature Writer’s Dilemma” (1987), 7–10.
  • Frédéric Ducarme and Denis Couvet, “What Does ‘Nature’ Mean?” (2020), 1–8.
  • Leo Marx, “The Idea of Nature in America”, in Zotero as a PDF and online (2008), 8–21.

Week 2

Mar 28: Nature vs. Culture

  • Frederick Turner, “Cultivating the American Garden” (1985), 45–52.
  • Michael Pollan, Second Nature [Ch. 2: Nature Abhors a Garden; Ch. 6: Weeds are Us] (1991), 37–53; 98–116.
  • Ylva Uggla, “What is this thing called ‘natural’? The nature-culture divide in climate change and biodiversity policy” (2010), 79–87.

Mar 30: Wilderness

  • William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature” (1996), 7–25.
  • Michael Pollan, Second Nature [Ch. 10: The Idea of a Garden] (1991), 176–201.

Week 3

Apr 4: Early American Nature

  • Richard White, “Discovering Nature in North America” (1992), 874–891.
  • Noel Perrin, “Forever Virgin: The American View of America” (1989), 13–22.
  • Arthur Ekirch, Jr., Man and Nature in America (1973) (2: The Agrarian Dream), 10–21.
  • American Georgics, 9–27.
  • George Catlin, Letters and Notes on the North American Indians (Letters 2 and 10), 14–22; 66–79.

Apr 6: Romantic Nature

  • Arthur Ekirch, Jr., Man and Nature in America [3: The Romantic View] (1973), 22–34.
  • Ronald Rees, “Constable, Turner, and Views of Nature in the Nineteenth Century” (1982), 253–69.
  • Thomas Cole, “Essay on American Scenery” American Monthly Magazine vol 1. (1836), 1–12.

Week 4

Apr 11: Transcendentalist Nature

  • Arthur Ekirch, Jr., Man and Nature in America [Chs. 5 and 6: Emerson and Thoreau] (1973), 47–69.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature” (1836), 7–53. These are really small pages, so it’s not as much reading as it looks like.
  • Henry David Thoreau, “Walking” (1851), 59–92.

Apr 13: Preserving and Conserving Nature

  • John M. Meyer, “Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and the Boundaries of Politics in American Thought” (1997), 267–84.
  • Gifford Pinchot: Selected Writings, 1–18 (skim over the biographical details, but pay attention to the personal experiences that shaped his views of nature); 21–33 (pay attention to the time and contexts when Pinchot wrote these short pieces).
  • Miles A. Powell, “‘Pestered with Inhabitants’: Aldo Leopold, William Vogt, and More Trouble with Wilderness” (2015), 195–226.
  • John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), 3–25.

Week 5

Apr 18: Environmentalism

  • Donald Worster, The Wealth of Nature 3–63.

Apr 20: Landscape Stories

  • J. B. Jackson, Sense of Place, A Sense of Time (1994), 15–25.
  • Leslie Marmon Silko, “Landscape, History and the Pueblo Imagination”, 83–94.
  • Keith H. Basso, “‘Stalking with Stories’: Names, Places, and Moral Narratives Among the Western Apache”, 95–116.
  • Margaret Wickens Pearce and Renee Pualani Louis, “Mapping Indigenous Depth of Place” (2008): 107–26.

Week 6

Apr 25: Place Memory

  • Oliver Zimmer, “In Search of Natural Identity: Alpine Landscape and the Reconstruction of the Swiss Nation” (1998), 637–48.
  • Margaret E. Farrar, “Amnesia, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Place Memory” (2011), 723–35.
  • Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place [Ch. 2:Sense of Place and Politics of Space] (1995), 15–43.

Apr 27: Constructing Landscapes

  • Anne Whiston Spirn, “Constructing Nature: The Legacy of Frederick Law Olmstead”, 91–113.
  • Audrey J Horning, “Of Saints and Sinners: Mythic Landscapes of the Old and New South” [from Myth, Memory, and the Making of the American Landscape] (2001), 21–39.
  • Paul Claval, “Changing Conceptions of Heritage and Landscape” (from Heritage, Memory and the Politics of Identity), 85–92.

Week 7

May 2: The existence of Nature

  • Lynn White, Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” (1967), 173–181.
  • Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature [Ch. 1: Nature as Female] (1980), 1–41.
  • Bill McKibben, The End of Nature, [Ch. 2: The End of Nature] (1989), 40–78.

May 4: Reframing Nature

Week 8: FINALLY

May 14