ENGLISH 328 - Writing and the Environment
Fall 2023, Section 001 - Environmental Writing
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be elected twice for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This class begins from and tests the premise that cultural and historical context largely determines the content, shape, and defining qualities of the human/environment relationship. We take as our starting point William Cronon’s contention in “The Trouble with Wilderness” that our valuation of the human/wilderness relationship (a particular type of human-environment relation) is predetermined by our cultural, historical context. Cronon contends that different historical moments necessarily view the relation between human beings and wilderness differently. For instance, given their religious training and orientation, Puritans could not view wilderness as other than a satanic place of chaos and misery (i.e., as something the Puritans were destined to domesticate, order, and “convert” into a garden). By contrast, in the romantic moment (Cronon offers William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir as exemplars), wilderness becomes something of a divine sanctuary where human beings can see and experience something like the face of God and the meaning of the universe.

We are going to test this hypothesis through a set of analytic readings and interpretations. Thinking of “mode” or “modality” both as the way something happens and how it is experienced, we will try to describe the different ‘modes’ of human/environment relation that we find in a wide array of texts and contexts drawn from cultural, literary, and intellectual history in the U.S. We will focus on the “American” context as a matter of convenience not because the same questions and analysis would not be apt in other cultural, historical contexts. But by examining one context closely, we can formulate an analytic strategy that would work in other contexts as well.


This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: American Literature

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirement: Time: 18th & 19th Centuries

Course Requirements:

Our readings will move from the exploratory moment (e.g., John Smith, William Bradford) to the suburban movement (Richard Yates) and, finally, to more recent calls for a more original or primal human-environment relation (e.g., Edward Abbey). Our perambulations will emphasize breadth rather than depth (though you will go into greater depth in your papers). Most of these readings will be either handed out as photocopies or you will find them on the class Canvas site.

We will talk about analytic method at the outset of the class and throughout, but the fundamental skills you will rely on in this class are careful and close analysis of the texts we are reading and clear expository writing.

The writing assignments will include the following:
--two “short papers” (4-6 pp),
--a final paper including some research (8-10 pp),
--the in-class writing assignments including weekly reading quizzes,
--and a final take-home exam.


ENGLISH 328 - Writing and the Environment
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

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