A Place-Based, Environmental Reading and Writing Area of Emphasis
Literary and Cultural Studies
Composition and Rhetoric
Place Literature Animals Community Environment
What We Believe:
We believe that in the 21st Century the most important task of literature, and of literary studies, is to enable humans to re-imagine our place in an increasingly threatened and deteriorating natural environment.
Our human perspective on the natural world is undergoing a sea change. Nature, once construed by Western culture as either an endlessly bountiful resource to be exploited, or as a threat to be overcome and controlled, is now talking back. And our survival as a species may depend on how well we listen, and respond. We are now globally aware of climate change, pollution, a burgeoning population, and the scarcity of natural resources—such scarcity that even basic substances like water and oxygen are already, in some places, commodified. In the future, all of us will be under increasing pressure to develop new ways of conserving, generating, valuing, and distributing resources.
We will need to imagine and invent new ways of seeing the natural world—or rediscover old and viable ones. As teachers and students we seek to reimagine and reinvent, to revalue, rediscover, and re-see the way the natural world is portrayed in literature and social discourse. Doing so, we trust, will enable us to live more richly and responsibly in our place on the planet.
Literature, as an imaginative art that envisions/constructs worlds similar to, but never identical with reality, offers us possibilities for thinking freshly about these challenges. Place-based analysis does not view the environment as a mere backdrop—as "setting" or "local color"—but as a central determinant of human discourse, of human culture, and of human identity. This approach crosses the boundaries of literature, creative writing, and rhetoric and composition, linking the three areas via a shared concern. We hope to bring together writers, scholars, and students interested in writing that is aware of place in terms not only of geopolitical and cultural markers but also of vegetation, water, animals, birds, geology, topography, and ecological relationships—an eco-conscious approach. Our goals are to connect, nourish, and make visible the place-based and ecocritical inquiry already being pursued on campus and, via this increased visibility, attract new thinkers to the field.
Who We Are:
COMPOSITION AND RHETORIC: