Instructor: Carlson T/R 12:30 – 1:50pm
This course explores relationships between human beings and the natural environments in which they live through how they are depicted in literature and film. Our exploration involves examining works of literary fiction and nonfiction, poetry, and documentary and dramatic film that feature persons encountering nature or dealing with environmental problems such as pollution, ecological changes, species extinction, and global warming. Through classic environmental texts, such as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; or, Life in the Woods and Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, we consider works that represent individuals living mostly by themselves in close proximity to nature, and, through films such as Gorillas in the Mist and Grizzly Man, we will look at extreme, and very different, examples of individuals living in nature. We examine ecology in relation to social class, through books such as Janisse Ray’s memoir Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Flight Behavior and films such as Promised Land and The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies. After examining how significant changes in the natural environment impact small rural communities we turn to texts such as Emily Anthes’s Frankenstein’s Cat and the film Jurassic Park, through which we will focus, first, on the history of species extinction and, second, on recent attempts through genetic engineering to bring species back to life. Students will engage this material through discussion and writing assignments. This course aims to enhance your understanding of relationships between human beings and the natural environments in which we live.