Department of English

University of Toronto

CCR199Y1Y L0191

CCR199Y1Y     L0191     R1-3
First-Year Seminar: The Environmental Imagination
Instructor: Prof. A. Most

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 827

Brief Description of Course:
 An exploration of how North American writers, thinkers, and artists have represented the human relationship to the natural world through fiction, poetry, essays, political action, film and new media. Looking back in history through the lens of our contemporary environmental crisis, we will ask how the stories our culture has told about our relationship to the earth have shaped the ways in which we encounter, enjoy, destroy, restore, use and abuse the natural world. The course will be divided into six units: Beginnings, Wilderness, Human and Non-Human, Civilization, Strange Weather and Endings. Each unit will be capped off by interactive student presentations which will take us beyond our books into encounters with the material world outside our classroom, prompting us to begin the urgent project of discovering new ways of imagining the earth and our role within it.

Required Reading: Novels, short stories, political essays and poems by writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Jack London, Robert Frost, Willa Cather, Upton Sinclair, Philip Roth, Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, Zadie Smith, Michael Pollan, Elizabeth Kolbert, Bill McKibben, and Naomi Klein. We will also watch a selection of films such as Pocahontas, Safe, When the Levees Broke, and Wall-E and encounter a wide variety of creation and apocalypse myths from ancient sources.

First Three Authors/Texts: [Subject to change: Check Blackboard for most up to date reading list] Creation myths from the Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Seneca and Cherokee traditions; Pocahontas (Disney); selected critical essays on the New World as Garden of Eden. 
Method of Evaluation: Class participation (25%), group presentation (25%), weekly quizzes (20%), final essay (30%).

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