Teaching Nature Writing: Literary Landscapes, Borders, and Marginal Texts
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
In his essay on Green Cultural Studies, Jhan Hochman writes, "More shrapnel against nature issues from an unrestrained blurring of the nature/culture boundary: the idea that technology is nature, is an aide to 'reinventing' nature. . . .[global technology] is not a denaturing so much as a particular production of nature" (Hochman, 1997: par. 23-24). Using Hochman's essay as a place of departure, the question I ask students in my upper-level Nature Writing course to address is the "nature" of boundaries. First, we have to unravel the various notions and terminology of nature, and next we have to decide how boundaries are negotiated. One way of doing this is through the assumed ontological oppositions of technology and nature. Negotiating this system will also open the door to discussions on historicity, race, ethnicity, gender and nationalism as we struggle to determine how to talk about culturally defined ideas of-- and relationships to--nature. This paper presents first a description of the course and then addresses some of the questions that arise: 1) How is nature determined? and 2) What role does culture play in the human-nature relationship? 3) What is the role of technology? As a way to address the questions above, the paper also relays strategies for teaching nature writing to upper-level gen-ed students through global literatures and includes a brief discussion of the role of technology in the classroom (an artificial and "unnatural" environment) to "reinvent" nature.
McLeod, Corinna, "Teaching Nature Writing: Literary Landscapes, Borders, and Marginal Texts" (2010). Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants. 132.