ENVIRON 322 - Literature and the Environment
Fall 2023, Section 002 - Literature, the Environment, & the Art of the Journal
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: SNE Program in the Environment
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated 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 will be devoted to studying the peculiar form of the journal, as a genre of writing that is and has been particularly helpful as we think about connections between literature and the environment. About half of our time will be spent on the journals of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote roughly two million words (give or take) in the nearly 25 years of his lifelong journaling project. But we’ll devote considerable time to studying excerpts and some entire journal-based works from other writers as well—some who were writing before Thoreau, and others writing in our own time. One of our primary sets of questions will be about the genre of the journal itself: How should we think about and understand this often overlooked and under-studied body of literature? What does it offer us today—as writers, thinkers, environmentalists, poets, activists, teachers?

Students will keep their own journals throughout the semester (I’m a firm believer in learning by doing) and formal required work will be a mix of both creative writing drawn and revised from your weekly journaling as well as critical work in the form of essays about the journals we’ll read together. Students will have a good deal of flexibility to determine just how much creative versus critical work they do for the class—though everyone will do a considerable amount of both.

Our class meetings will be largely discussion-based, since I think conversations, when they’re good (and we have to practice having them to make them good) are the best teaching tools. And: Whether you’re already a journaler or daily writing will be a totally new enterprise, whether you have a lot of practice being attuned to the world around you (natural and otherwise) or your interests and habits have led you elsewhere so far in life, your experiences and impressions—as the term moves along and also from memories of things you’ve seen and done and maybe written about previously—will likely be important tools for helping yourself and the rest of the class think about the ideas and the texts we’ll study. So come with an eagerness to get to know the people in this class, and, perhaps, to learn from them as much as you will learn from the books we read and discuss together.


This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: Pre-1900, American Literature

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Time: 18th & 19th Centuries, Time: Contemporary/Modern


Course Requirements:

The course requires regular participation in class discussion, weekly reading and (ungraded, credit/no credit) writing assignments, and a total of about 18 pages of writing submitted across a Midterm and Final Portfolio of both creative and analytical work.

Intended Audience:

As participants in an upper-level English class, students are expected to have basic skills writing analytical, close-reading based essays about literary texts. Experience with journaling or creative writing is ideal about not required.


ENVIRON 322 - Literature and the Environment
Schedule Listing
002 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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