FSEM: Writing Ecology: Literature and Environment

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Luis Rodríguez: Trouble in the Barrio

Hi everyone,

For what will be our last blog of the course on the readings (time flies, huh?), we will focus on Luis J. Rodgríguez’s poetry from _The Concrete River_ in addition to the informative reading by David Díaz, _Barrio Urbanism_, that we discussed on Thursday. Some questions to explore include:

How does Rodríguez represent the non-human in his poetry? How does this view of “nature” differ from others we have seen in the course? How would you characterize his representation of the “Concrete River” (in the poems “Always Running” and “Concrete River”)? What is the “sense of place” the speaker(s)  of the poems feel in East Los Angeles? What “concrete” connections do you find between the poetry and the reading by Díaz in terms of environmental justice issues?

Moraga and ecofeminism for Tuesday

Hi All,

I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather.  For Tuesday, after reading the selection from Cherrie Moraga’s _The Last Generation_ and Priscilla Ybarra’s article on her (both readings are on course documents on blackboard under Week 14), respond to the following issues in your blog:

What is Moraga’s perspective on the non-human and on interactions between humans and the environment?  What sorts of environmental and social injustices does she describe?   According to Moraga, Anzaldua and Ybarra (writing about Moraga), what is the connection between gender studies and environmental studies?  Or, in other words, what do they see the relation between environmental issues (particularly, environmental justice issues) and women (particularly minority women)?  Do you find this argument to be convincing?  Why or why not.

Blog for Tuesday: Sense of Place

Hello all,

For a change of pace, the blog for Tuesday will be more creative.  As we’ve been talking about “sense of place” and how one can capture a particular sense of place through writing, for this week’s blog you will be trying your hand at doing just that.

As this is a more creative assignment, there are a number of possible options to write about within the question:

The idea is to pick a place that has special value for you–it could be the town where you grew up, a park you have been to,  a city, or even a very particular place (a particular tree, or bench, or rock, etc.)–and, through writing, try to evoke what is special to you about that particular place.  What makes that “space” a “place” for you?  What makes it seem, in Buell’s terms, “cherished” instead of  “disposable”?  Try to write about the place in such a way that may convince the reader that it is not an impersonal space (that could be destroyed in order for something else to be built there, for example), but rather one that deserves to be preserved.

Ray González, Memory Fever, for Tuesday

Hi all,

For Tuesday’s blog, after reading the introduction up to page 53 of Ray González’s book Memory Fever (1993), what are the main themes of González’s writings?  What are some specific examples that describe the writer’s relationship to the land of the Southwest, where he has not lived since 1979?  Does he feel a sense of “belonging” there?  How does he describe/perceive the physical landscape/the non-human world?  Does he look back with nostalgia on the days spent there during his childhood?  What are some of the changes that he notices in the land upon returning to the Southwest?

Blog for Tuesday: Split this Rock!

Hi all,

For Tuesday I’d like you to write about your responses to the poetry performances we saw last night at Split this Rock! poetry festival.  Some possible questions are:

How did the experience of seeing the poetry performed add to your understanding/experience of Espada’s poetry?   Did the poetry successfully advocate for the causes to which it was directed?  What is the role of poetry according to the poets who performed last night (Sonia Sánchez, Martín Espada, E. Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye and Alix Olson)?  In expressing a clearly pro-peace, anti-war message, were the poets’ cases convincing?  In what ways were they convincing and in what ways could they have possibly been more so?

If you were unable to join us last night, listen to some of the samples on www.poets.org, such as the ones that appear below for Naomi Shihab Nye and comment the differences in your experience of reading the poems versus hearing the poet recite them:

http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/174

Martín Espada, for Tuesday

After reading up through “My Native Costume”, address the following questions in your blog:

What are the main themes of this poetry?  How does the poet represent the inner-city and the “sense of place” (their sense of “belonging”) of the residents there?   How is the experience of  residents in inner-city tenements represented as compared to the attitudes of the landlords, judges, and bosses of those people?  How does the poetic voice describe his various professions?

José Emilio Pacheco: for Tuesday, March 11

Hi all,

Here are the questions for the blog for the Tuesday after Spring Break:

After reading the Foreward (brief) to Selected Poems by José Emilio Pacheco, and the selections from two books of poetry, “No me preguntes cómo pasa el tiempo” (Don’t Ask Me How the Time Goes By), (pgs. 47-78), and “Irás y no volverás” (And So You Go, Never to Come Back), (pgs. 78-109), write about the following:

What are the general themes of this poetry?  What is the relationship between the poetic voice (the speaker of the poems) and the non-human world?  How is the non-human represented?  Choose three poems that stand out for you in the reading and briefly explain why, citing specific passages.

Muir and Milton for Tuesday

Hi everyone,

For Tuesday, after reading Kay Milton’s chapter “Knowing Nature Through Experience” alongside John Muir’s writings, post on the following questions:

How does John Muir’s perspective on nature, and on direct experience with the non-human world, differ from the perspectives proposed by other writers we have discussed (such as Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau and Bello)?  How would Cronon characterize Muir’s attitude toward “wilderness” and “the wilderness experience”?

What does Kay Milton have to say about  “Knowing Nature Through Experience”?  What is her primary argument?

Bello, Whitman and Sarmiento, for Tuesday

Hi everyone,

For Tuesday, after reading/rereading Sarmiento, and the first half of Whitman’s Song of Myself, write about the following connections by citing evidence from the texts:

How do Whitman and Bello (and Emerson as well) view the importance of direct experience? How do Whitman and Bello’s poetic texts view the relationship between humans and non-humans? According to Whitman, Bello and Emerson, what are the possible benefits of direct, first-hand connect with the non-human world?

Song of Myself was originally published in 1855, one year after Walden and 10 years after Facundo. In Whitman’s poetic vision–one that could be termed “all-embracing”–how would you characterize his perspective on nature and on modernization?

Susan Fennimore Cooper and Emerson

After reading the selections from Susan Fennimore Cooper (James Fennimore Cooper’s daughter (author of _Last of the Mohicans_) and Ralph Waldo Emerson, think over and respond to the following questions in your blog by class time on Tuesday:

As Cooper and Emerson were writing during a similar time period as Thoreau, how does their perspective on nature and humans relationship to the non-human differ or complement Thoreau’s perspective from Walden? In what ways do you think Emerson and Thoreau might disagree/agree? What does Emerson say about working the land and about being “solitary”?

Did Susan Fennimore Cooper write merely for “the writer’s (her own) amusement, as she states in the Preface to Rural Hours? How do you think her perspective on nature and the use/abuse of resources would have been received in 1850? Do you think that her being a woman writer affected the critical reception of the work? What does she say about wilderness, and the history of the land (in relation to both native americans and old growth forests)?

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