The Craft of Writing
R1B 002 | CCN: 31197
Reading and Writing Beyond the Human: Environmental Justice and the Environmental Imagination
Instructor: Devin P Choudhury, Mary Evarts Wiltshire-Gordon
Date / Time: Tu/Th 5:00pm - 6:29pm
We live on a planet increasingly defined by ecological catastrophe: rising oceans, burning forests, species vanishing from the face of the earth. Nation-states gather to set carbon emissions goals they inevitably miss, leaving the poorest and most vulnerable among us to suffer the consequences. And yet while the challenges we currently face are unique in their severity, they are not entirely new. For hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of years, humans have interacted with the nonhuman world in a way that has brought about destruction and had long-term consequences for both human and nonhuman beings alike. What is to be done in the face of this violence? Is it possible to imagine a different world, one in which human and nonhuman beings flourish together? And, if so, how can we make this different world a reality?
In this class, we will explore the way in which different environmental traditions have addressed these concerns, placing special emphasis on the role of the writer. How have Americans pictured this new, environmentally just world? What about thinkers from the so-called Global South? And how might literature, a perhaps-unlikely savior, play an important role in efforts toward a brighter future? To answer these questions, we will draw from thinkers such as Henry David Thoreau, Rachel Carson, Arne Naess, Ramachandra Guha, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Vandana Shiva, Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, and poets and fiction writers from around the world.
Through our engagement with these texts, we will develop our own reading and composition skills, with particular focus on the creation of a research-driven, analytic essay. Together we will learn to synthesize and analyze complex arguments across styles, disciplines, and contexts, all while constructing argumentative claims through the use of research and correctly-cited textual evidence. In doing so, we will learn to question our place, as writers and researchers, in the quest for environmental justice and a better world for all beings.