Syllabus/achievement requirements

  • Bill McKibben, ed., American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau
  • Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History
  • Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia
  • Gretel Erlich, The Solace of Open Spaces
  • Lawrence Buell, Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond
  • John M. Meyer, Engaging the Everyday: Environmental Social Criticism and the Resonance Dilemma


Class Schedule with assignments noted on due date

NB: In addition to the classes shared with 2532 noted below there will be three seminar meetings for this course. Assignments for these meetings will follow.


1. 16 Feb 14:15-16:00 GM, SR 115

2. 15 Mar 14:15-16:00 GM, SR 115

3. 12 Apr 14:15-16:00 GM, SR 115



All classes meet in PAM SR 13; note film screenings in GM 219




READINGS and Electronic Texts

19 Jan

 Double session:

Film screening  (GM 219) +

Class discussion

- Wandering & Freedom


- Into the Wild (feature film, 2007)

- BBC documentary film, How the Earth Made Us

26 Jan

Double session:

Film screening (GM 219)


Class discussion

- Imagining nature

- Origins and new beginnings


- The New World (feature film, 2005)

- Thoreau from Walden in American Earth, 9-19

- Helen and Scott Nearing, from, Living the Good Life in American Earth, 318-322

- Leslie Marmon Silko, from Ceremony in American Earth, 582-590

- Steinberg, Down to Earth, Chap 1

2 Feb

Human Ecology

- Steinberg, Down to Earth, Chaps 2-4

- William Cronon, “Seasons of Want and Plenty” from Changes in the Land in American Earth, 632-658


9 Feb

Nature: Seeing and Telling


-Walt Whitman, “Song of the Redwood Tree” from Leaves of Grass in American Earth, 65-70

- Steinberg, Down to Earth, Chap 8

- Robert Marshall, from Wintertrip into New Country in American Earth, 225-234

- John Burroughs, “The Art of Seeing Things,” American Earth, 145-159

- Edward Abbey “Polemic Industrial Tourism in the National Parks,” in American Earth, 413-433

- Hudson River School landscape paintings on Classfronter

- John Burroughs, “The Art of Seeing Things,” in

- Jeremiah Johnson (feature film, 1972; portions shown in class)




16 Feb

Ecology and Inspiration: Renewing/Restoring

- John Perkins Marsh, from Man and Nature in American Earth, 71-80

- Aldo Leopold, from Sand County Almanac in American Earth, 266-294

- Rachel Carson, from Silent Spring in American Earth, 366-376

- Kenneth Boulding, from “The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth,” in American Earth, 309-404

- Robinson Jeffers, The Answer in American Earth, 251-252

- Jane Jacobs, from The Death and Life of Great American Cities in American Earth, 359-365





1 Mar

From Conservation to Environmentalism


Steinberg, Down to Earth, Chaps 8-9, 15

Dreiser, “A Certain Oil Refinery” in American Earth, 186-191

J. Lelyveld, “Millions Join Earth Day Observances Across the Nation,” in American Earth, 484-489

- Garrett Hardin, from The Tragedy of the Commons, in American Earth, 438-450

- Benton MacKaye, “The Indigenous and the Metropolitan,” from The New Exploration in American Earth, 209-223





Office Hours kept during class time



Friday 11 March



15 Mar




Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia,

Ursula Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (Listen:)





5 Apr

Consumption as way of life

- Steinberg, Down to Earth, Chaps 11-14

- Gifford Pinchot, “Prosperity,” in American Earth, 173-180

Alan Durning, “The Dubious Rewards of Consumption,” in American Earth, 770-780

- BBC documentary, The Men Who Made Us Fat (Episode 2 of 3)

Amory Lovins, Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken? in American Earth, 559-569

12 Apr


- Jonathan Schell, from The Fate of the Earth in American Earth, 622-631

- Paul Erlich, from The Population Bomb, in American Earth, 434-437

- Bill McKibben, from The End of Nature in American Earth, 718-724

- Wes Jackson, “Outside the Solar Village: One Utopian Farm,” in American Earth, 595-608

- Steinberg, Down to Earth, Chap 16

- BBC Documentary, How to Feed the Planet (Episode 2 of 3: Should I Eat Meat?)



19 Apr

What is left?

Gretel Erlich, The Solace of Open Spaces


Published Nov. 11, 2015 10:55 AM - Last modified Jan. 16, 2016 3:38 PM