Eng 592: women writing on nature
Through essays, fiction, and poetry, this course will explore human relationships to the natural world, concentrating on environmental problems that especially affect women and their families. The writers we will study are artists, scientists and visionaries, as well as mothers, daughters and good cooks. They come from a variety of backgrounds and a variety of nationalities. Some of these writers are listed below:
Carol Adams, Paula Gunn Allen, Maude Barlow, Octavia Butler, Rachel Carson, Mary Daly, Annie Dillard, Francoise d’Eaubonne, Susan Griffin, Jane Goodall, Donna Haraway, Bell Hooks, Sarah Hrdy, Barbara Kingsolver, Ursula LeGuin, Audre Lorde, Lee Maracle, Wangari Mathaai, Gita Mehta, Maria Mies, Susannah Moodie, Marilyn Waring, Val Plumwood, Beatrice Potter, Vandana Shiva, Jane Smiley and Karen Warren.
Many questions will arise from our work. Is it right to eat animals? Are alternate sexual orientations “natural?” Can we solve environmental problems without dealing with underlying problems like racism? Is there a connection between the abuse of animals and violence against women? How can we live ethically in a consumerist society?
In response to these questions, we will collaborate on an open web project, designed by the class as a whole, to which each student will contribute a short paper of five or six pages. Individual papers may consist of an analysis of a work on nature written by a woman, a practical examination of a local environmental problem from an ecofeminist perspective, or a student’s own creative writing. Student artwork or digital media presentations may also be included.
You will discuss your research in a group presentation, along with others who have chosen similar topics. For example, an analysis of Ursula LeGuin’s short story “Buffalo Gals Won’t You Come Out Tonight,” which portrays a flea-bitten female coyote as the creator of the world, might be accompanied by a critique of Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat, which studies society’s attitudes to women and animals. These presentations could be accompanied by a dramatic reading of a student’s own work or an ecofeminist discussion of the ethics of housing animals at the Columbus Zoo.
In this course you will gain an understanding of women’s writings on nature in a historical and international context. You will learn a variety of feminist ecocritical approaches to works of literature and art. A representative group of texts on ecofeminist theory, environmental science and international affairs will help you reflect on your own place in the ecosystem. You will gain practical knowledge of the possibilities of social media through your participation in a collaborative web project.
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (Mariner, 0618249060)
Louis Erdrich, Love Medicine (Harper, 0061787426)
Octavia Butler, Dawn (Harper: Xenogenesis Trilogy, Bk. 1, 0446603775 - this is also sold as Lilith's Brood; either edition is fine)
Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer (Harper, 0060199652)
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm (Harper Perennial, 0060915439)