Nature writing and environmental writing are often narrowly conceived. What is considered to be environmental writing has historically been very white, male, and colonial in nature. The environmental section of any bookstore is chock full of essays about fly fishing, backpacking in a remote wilderness, or journalistic tomes about mass extinction and our rapidly heating planet. Although these topics have their place, this class will focus on your lived experiences and interests within the environments you know best—natural, constructed, human, animal, and everything in between.
In this generative class, we will engage in readings that push the traditional boundaries of environmental writing and include topics and ideas that are often left out of the genre. The readings, class discussion, and writing prompts will help us redefine and reimagine environmental writing. Over the course of five weeks, you will have a full essay draft, complete with revision strategies and a submission plan.
1st Week: First, we’ll wrestle together with what environmental writing is—and what it isn’t. Then we’ll dive into some writing prompts to write a memoir of home, including natural, unnatural, and constructed elements.
2nd Week: How can we de-pristine references to the natural world or to places in our homes that hold so much nostalgia? We will explore this question and others through readings and writing prompts.
3rd Week: What keeps you up at night? Whether it pertains to the natural world or your home, it matters. Writing prompts will help you distill the things that most engage you.
4th Week: We’ll discuss ecotones—what they are, how they work, and how they serve as a model for an essay structure.
5th Week: Revision and publication strategies: In addition to an overview and discussion of essay revision strategies, you’ll also have a chance to share your essay draft, and receive verbal feedback from your peers and instructor. We’ll also talk about submission planning, including how and where to submit!
WHAT DOES THIS CLASS INCLUDE?
Outside reading: Camille Dungy, Amy Leach, Sarah Broom, CMarie Fuhrman, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, and Lauret Savoy, among others. Reading will be roughly 10-15 pages per week.