It seems self-evident that the world we live in influence our literatures and languages. The question is, How? On the other hand, nature itself is a kind of literature, and in more ways than one. From one point of view, nature writes itself when coastlines shift and mountains erode. But there are at least two other ways in which nature is a kind of literature. One of these stories is written by scientists and environmental historians, who take data acquired and use it to reconstruct narratives of environmental change. At the same time, there is another (and some would say, an especially urgent) story of nature, which is being etched into the natural world by bulldozers, bridges, and dynamite. Just like more traditional forms of nature writing, these other narratives of the environment are as much a form of literature as any other, and since humans have a role, not only in shaping the natural world, but also in telling its story, humans are the coauthors of the story of our planet in more than one sense.
This course is an introduction to the history of the concept of nature, ecocriticism, and environmental history. We will discuss issues and topics such as: relationships between nature and literature, ecofeminism, literary/textual ecosystems, environmental ethics, narratives of rise/collapse, animal studies, urban studies, ecolinguistics, and human-environment interactions.