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EN355 Ecopoetics

This module is Pathway Approved Option for the Theory Pathway and an option for all other Pathways.

2016/17 - seminar: Thursday 16:00 - 18:00 Room H422/24

*This module is NOT running in 2017/18. It will most likely run again in 2018/19*

This module offers an immersive, practical and theoretical orientation to the major "compass points" in ecopoetics: creative and critical engagement of writing with the emerging set of environmental challenges now facing life on earth. Students who complete it will gain an introduction to some of the principal issues in and leading theoretical critiques of the environmental crisis, across a range of disciplines; sustained engagement with distinctive, and differing, approaches to contemporary writing in ecopoetics, with a good overview of major currents in contemporary poetry; and an equally sustained immersion in hands-on practices, resulting in a solid body of work, both critical and creative, and a comprehensive set of tools (and compass points) for further development. As the module explores both the creative and the critical dimension in ecopoetics, it supplements both courses in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies, where students may seek an introduction to contemporary poetry and an application of critical theory, and courses in the Writing Program, where students may develop their creative writing with a sustained focus in a supportive workshop environment. Students in both courses will benefit from the interdisciplinary perspectives of discussions pointing to future configurations of literary arts and studies in relation to the humanities, sciences and social sciences.

This module will be assessed through both critical and creative work: the first two portfolios each entail some creative work with a critical component, while the student doing the 100% assessed option can choose the emphasis of the final portfolio, whether critical or creative.

100% Assessed: Portfolio of field-based writing (Term 1, Unit 1, 2000 words) 20% ; Ecopoetics portfolio (Term 1, Unit 2, 3000 words) 30% ; Final portfolio (Term 2, 5000 words) 50%

Examined/ Assessed: Portfolio of field-based writing (Term 1, Unit 1, 2000 words) 20% ; Ecopoetics portfolio (Term 1, Unit 2, 3000 words) 30% ; Exam 50%

The details on assessment are as follows:

100% Assessed:
1) a portfolio of field-based writing: 5 pages A4 poetry, or a site-based project -- the poetry equivalent of 1000 words of prose -- plus 1000 words of critical commentary) 20% ;
2) an "ecopoetics" portfolio: 10 pages A4 poetry -- the poetry equivalent of 2000 words of prose -- plus 1000 words of critical commentary 30% ;
3) a final portfolio: EITHER an extended poetry sequence (20 - 30 pages A4, the poetry equivalent of 4000 words of creative prose) plus 1000 words of critical commentary, OR a critical essay (5000 words) that must include some close reading of contemporary poetry 50%.

Examined/ Assessed:
1) and 2) same as above.
3) a three hour exam (consisting of 3 essay questions, or 2 essay questions and one creative assignment) 50%

One visiting writer per term will give a 40-minute performance plus 20-minute Q & A, during one of the scheduled workshop sessions.

Outline Syllabus

18 workshops of 2 hrs.

Term 1 Field-based Writing / Foundations and Definitions

Field-based Writing
1 TROUBLING THE BOUNDARIES: Wordsworth & Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (1798 ed. w/ Wordsworth's Preface of 1800 and Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, Ch XIV)
2 WALKING: Thoreau, "Walking" (selection); Smithson, "Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape"; selected walking poems by W.C. Williams, Frank O'Hara, Larry Eigner, Lorine Niedecker, Harryette Mullen
3 GARDENS: Virgil, Georgics (excerpt), Andrew Marvell, "The Garden," "Upon Appleton House"; gardening poems by Berry, Clark, Finlay (Ian Hamilton and Alec), Mayer, Paley, Patton, Vicuña, Whitman, Zukofsky
4 BUILDINGS: Robert Smithson, "A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey"; Brenda Coultas, "The Bowery Project," Kenneth Goldsmith, "Traffic," Ezra Pound, "In A Station at the Metro," Ed Roberson, "The Open," Occupy Wall Street Anthology (selection), Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"
5 EXPANDED FIELD: Robert Smithson, "A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites," "The Spiral Jetty"; Debord and Wolman, “A User’s Guide to Détournement"; Maximus to Gloucester: The Letters & Poems of Charles Olson to the Editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, 1962-1969 (excerpt); Snyder, "Bioregional Perspectives"; Vicuña, Precario(u)s 

6 Reading Week

Foundations and Definitions / Case Studies
7 Pastoral / Wilderness / Third landscapes (readings from selected works and from Greg Garrard's Ecocriticism)
8 Labor, food systems, shelter and urban planning (readings from selected works and from Greg Garrard's Ecocriticism )
9 Bioregions and biodiversity (readings from selected works and from Greg Garrard's Ecocriticism)
10 Global networks: energy, trade, migration (readings from selected works and from Greg Garrard's Ecocriticism)

Term 2 Ecopoetics Compass Points

Compass Points
11 Sound and soundscapes
12 Documents and research
13 Concepts and procedures
14 Situations
15 Systems and boundaries

16 Reading Week

17 Interstices and hybrids
18 Poetry/ essay workshopping
19 Poetry/ essay workshopping
20 Poetry/ essay workshopping

Set Texts 

Fisher-Wirth Ann and Laura-Gray Street, eds. The Ecopoetry Anthology (San Antonio: Trinity UP, 2013).
Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism, 2nd ed. (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2012)
Wordsworth & Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads (1798 edition, with 1802 Preface), ed. W.J.B Owen (Oxford: OUP, 1996)
or the Oxford Student Texts edition, ed. Celia de Piro (Oxford: OUP, 2006).

If you consult the electronic edition of Lyrical Ballads, be sure to read the 1798 edition text and the 1802 edition Preface!

Selected works by (amongst others, available online) Will Alexander, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Wendell Berry, John Cage, Jack Collom, Brenda Coultas, Larry Eigner, Kenneth Goldsmith, Allison Hedge Coke, Brenda Hillman, Ronald Johnson, Nathaniel Mackey, Bernadette Mayer, Lorine Niedecker, Simon Ortiz, Gary Snyder, Maggie O’Sullivan, Stephen Ratcliffe, Juliana Spahr, Cecilia Vicuña.

Recommended Texts 

Corey, Joshua and G.C. Waldrep, eds. The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Boise, Idaho: Ahsahta Press, 2012).
Guha, Ramachandra. Environmentalism: A Global History (New York: Longman, 2000).
Iijima, Brenda, ed. The Ecolanguage Reader (NY: Portable Press at Yo-yo labs and Nighboat Editions, 2010).
Tarlo, Harriet, ed. The Ground Aslant: Radical Landscape Poetry (Bristol, UK: Shearsman Books, 2011).