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Topics in Ecology and Sustainability: Environmental Writing and Writers

The art of writing about the natural world depends on the writer’s ability to closely observe and respond to his or her surroundings. In this two-week class on the theory and practice of environmental writing, students will learn how to see and write about nature.

During the first week, we’ll explore three classics of the genre whose authors captured a year in the life of the natural world : Henry Beston’s The Outermost House, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand Country Almanac, and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A significant portion of each day will be spent in the field, exploring the region and the ongoing work of the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.

In week two, we’ll shift into writing retreat mode. Students, in ongoing consultation with the instructor, will compose, revise, and critique a 2,000-word essay based on their own close observations at Lakeside.

Meets: July 20 – July 31, 2015.

Prerequisites: Students must read all three books before arriving at Lakeside.

Optional supplemental texts include The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White, and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

Suitable for undergraduate and graduate students.