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LIT 349 Nature Writing and Environmental Literature

This course familiarizes students with characteristic works of nature writing and environmental literature by authors across the globe and from different eras. In these works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, students will study themes and issues such, as but not limited to, primitivism and the pastoral; critical animal and plant studies, consumer culture, and overconsumption, the aesthetics of nature and nature writing; nature writing and spirituality, Romanticism and the natural world; the Anthropocene and geologic time, ecofeminism; global futurisms and dystopian imaginings. Students will examine formal aesthetics, structure, and audience reception in order to consider strategies for storytelling and sustainability in the era of climate catastrophe.


4 Undergraduate credits

Effective August 18, 2024 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Analyze and critique relevant schools and studies such as primitivism, pastoralism, Romanticism, industrialism, environmentalism, ecofeminism, eco spiritualism, anthrocentrism and biocentrism, sustainable growth, ecology, urban nature, and others at a level consistent with the analytical and expressive complexity and sophistication that are distinctly characteristic of upper-division courses at comprehensive universities
  • Articulate substantial and clearly presented responses to the works of nature writers and environmental literature.
  • Conduct literary analysis that is responsive to details and to complexities of text and theme in the works of nature writers and environmental literature.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with genres and subgenres of environmental literature and understand the development and characteristics of these subgenres.
  • Explain how nature writing and environmental literature contributes to our understanding of the natural world.
  • Interpret and apply biographical and/or cultural evidence as relevant.
  • Know the historical and aesthetic development of nature writing and environmental literature.
  • Master the integration of literary evidence into the student's own writing, including standard formatting and citation practices.
  • Understand and apply relevant literary terms, theoretical concepts, reading strategies, and analytical methods.
  • Understand the ways by which nature writing and environmental literature contributes to our cultural responses to the natural world.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 6: The Humanities and Fine Arts

  • Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
  • Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
  • Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
  • Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
  • Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.

Goal 10: People and the Environment

  • Explain the basic structure and function of various natural ecosystems and of human adaptive strategies within those systems.
  • Discern patterns and interrelationships of bio-physical and socio-cultural systems.
  • Describe the basic institutional arrangements (social, legal, political, economic, religious) that are evolving to deal with environmental and natural resource challenges.
  • Evaluate critically environmental and natural resource issues in light of understandings about interrelationships, ecosystems, and institutions.
  • Propose and assess alternative solutions to environmental problems.
  • Articulate and defend the actions they would take on various environmental issues.