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"In Wildness is the preservation of the world."

-Henry David Thoreau

 

 

This course will examine North American representations of wilderness in literature and (to a lesser extent) the visual arts from the seventeenth century to the present.  We will focus on the way that changing cultural values have shaped the way authors imagine wilderness.  Along the way we’ll consider the relationship between religious and scientific understandings of the natural world, wilderness as a crucial ingredient in the formation of American national identity, the pastoral ideal, Romantic and Transcendentalist views of nature, and the rise of the conservation movement.  Writers will include: Mary Rowlandson, John Bartram, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Edward Abbey, William Faulkner, Aldo Leopold, Mary Oliver, Gary Snyder, and Marilynne Robinson.