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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Gary J Handwerk
C LIT 396
Seattle Campus

Special Studies in Comparative Literature

Offered by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.

Class description

Our focus for this course will be upon how literature deals with the environment, i.e., how literary texts represent environmental issues and why it matters that they be represented in this form. How, that is, does where we live and, even more importantly, how we imagine the place in which we live, affect who we are? How do our relationships to nature and our relationships with other people intersect? We will be considering a range of prose texts, including fictional narratives, non-fictional essays and journalism, primarily texts written or set in the Americas. Course goals include: 1) developing the analytical reading skills appropriate to different kinds of literary texts, 2) working on how to formulate and sustain critical arguments in writing, 3) learning how to uncover the supporting logic and stakes of specific attitudes toward the natural world, 4) understanding how environmental issues are linked to other social and cultural concerns, 5) seeing how those linkages are affected by particular historical and political conditions. The course will contain a significant writing component, both regular informal writing assignments and several medium-length analytical papers; it can count for W-credit.

Student learning goals

Practice close reading skills based on Four Principles of Narrative Analysis, with attention to rhetorical and ideological features of texts.

Write frequently and easily in initial response to reading.

Write analytical essays about arguments of class texts, moving from close study of individual passages to comparison of multiple longer works.

Understand the role played by rhetoric, ideology and literary techniques in shaping social values and beliefs related to environmental issues.

Gain knowledge of history of twentieth-century environmentalism.

General method of instruction

Discussion/lecture

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites.

Class assignments and grading

5 graded analytical papers; weekly ungraded response essays; course writing portfolio

Response Papers/Portfolio 1/7 of final grade Analytical essays (5) 5/7 of final grade Attendance and participation 1/7 of final grade


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Gary J Handwerk
Date: 02/24/2012