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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Richard Henry Watts
ENGL 365
Seattle Campus

Literature and Discourse on the Environment

Pays attention to verbal expression; forms and genres; and historical, cultural, and conceptual contexts of the natural environment. Focuses on sites, nations, and historical periods. Forms and genres include: nature writing, environmentalist discourses, the pastoral, the sublime, discourses of the city , fiction, poetry, nonfiction prose, dramatic forms, and religious texts. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

We will interpret a variety of texts (literary, cinematic, commercial, etc.) that address the water crisis with a view to understanding how water’s cultural meaning has changed as we have become more conscious of risks in supply (posed by pollution and natural/man-made scarcity) and as access to it is increasingly mediated (as a result of its privatization, commodification, etc.). While no ten-week course could pretend to give a comprehensive and global view of problem as complex as our relation to water, we will study novels, essays, films and other cultural documents from Western Europe, Africa, the Maghreb, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and North and Latin America with a view to understanding the differential distribution of the water crisis and the variety of aesthetic responses to it.

Student learning goals

To introduce you to the objects and methods of the environmental humanities, including “ecocriticism.”

To help you understand the symbolic dimension of the water crisis and how it relates to our response to material problems.

To provide you with the tools to articulate persuasive arguments regarding the works and the wider issues under consideration.

General method of instruction

Lecture/discussion

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Essays/group projects/exams


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.
Last Update by Richard Henry Watts
Date: 12/10/2010