English 233 - Winter, 2016

Problems in American Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Ronda, Margaret
CRN: 43604
Time: R 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Later American
Focus: Genre, Method, Theory


    Ecologically-Oriented Poetry After 1945

    This course will examine postwar American poetry in the context of planetary environmental crisis. We will consider how poetry after 1945 reflects on and responds to various material changes to the natural environment in its forms and themes. Alongside our primary readings, we’ll track the development of environmentalist discourses, forms of activism, and ecological theory across this period. These will include: the apocalyptic rhetoric of the nuclear threat; neo-Malthusian discourse surrounding population growth; frameworks of systemic risk and toxicity; anarcho-primitivism and deep ecology; environmental justice perspectives; Marxist ecological theories; indigenous ecologies; neo-vitalism and ecofeminism. Placing these discourses in dialogue with the poetic works, we will consider how these various approaches might yield generative critical methods for ecocritical reading. At the same time, we’ll be attentive to the distinctive modes of environmental inquiry that arise in and through the formal workings of these primary texts.

    The readings list below reflects the books available at the UC Davis bookstore. Other primary works available on Smart Site will include excerpts from works including Ginsberg’s Plutonium Ode, Di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters, Roberson’s Etai-Eken, Alexander’s Asia and Haiti, Sikelianos’ The California Poem, and Conrad’s ECODEVIANCE.

    Critical readings (also available on Smart Site) will include works by Carson, Commoner, Erhlich, Naess, Watts, Dyson, Davis, Mies and Shiva, Guha, Nixon, Kohn, Kolbert, Moore, Tsing, de la Cadena, Bennett, Haraway.


    Grading will be based on participation in seminar discussions, an in-class presentation, an annotated bibliography, and a final paper.


    Garbage, AR Ammons
    Blood Run, Allison Hedge Coke
    Hello, the Roses, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge
    Poems, Elizabeth Bishop
    The Cancer Journals, Audre Lorde
    Paterson, William Carlos Williams
    Blood Dazzler, Patricia Smith