English 184 - Spring, 2017

Literature & the Environment

Class Information

Instructor: Hsu, Hsuan
CRN: 71514
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 146 Olson


    This course will consider a range of literary, critical, and theoretical texts that explore human relationships with the nonhuman environment. After considering nineteenth-century writings concerned with encountering and preserving the wilderness, we’ll turn to more recent works that consider forms of “nature” that have been altered by climate change, chemical pollutants, and radiation. In these stories of cyborgs, mutations, toxicity, and environmental risk, “nature” cannot be separated from human bodies and activities. The course will consider a range of genres—such as memoir, magical realism, science fiction, naturalism, and experimental poetry—that demonstrate how literature can engage with environmental issues beyond familiar modes of conservation and “nature writing.”


    participating, attendance, and reading quizzes: 30%
    short writing assignments: 10%
    shorter (4-5pg) essay: 15%
    longer (7-8pg) essay: 25%
    final exam: 20%


    Call of the Wild, Jack London
    Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
    Zoo City, Lauren Beukes
    Watershed, Percival Everett
    Well Then There Now, Juliana Spahr
    Urban Tumbleweed, Harryette Mullen
    Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi
    The Word for World is Forest, Ursula LeGuin