The Natural World: Reading (and Writing) the Environment


English 1106 Spring 2000

Daniel Mosser

ENGL 1106

Index#: 2096


Office Hours: 3-4 WF & by appt.

Office: Williams 216

(540) 231-7797

Class time: 11-11:50 MWF

Classrooms: Williams 220/221

This syllabus is on the Web at

Watch for updates...


The primary aim of this course is to help you become proficient (or aware of already-existing proficiencies) in the processes of critical thinking, reading, and writing. Throughout the course, these processes will be foregrounded in order to make you self-conscious (in a positive sense) of how and why you do certain things when you read and write. In part, this will result from examining how other writers do these things. Thus, while we will be reading for content, we will also be observing and discussing the structures and methods (the writer's tools) employed by each writer to achieve explicit and implicit aims and purposes.

We will use this course to explore the nature of seeing and the seeing of nature, with particular emphasis on the sense of "Inhabiting Place." The texts provide us with various models for exploring the natural world and the ways in which humans use, relate to, inhabit, impact, and/or separate ourselves from that world. The longer text, by Robin Cody, provides a more focused and extended perspective on ecosystem--natural and man-made--of the Columbia River Basin; Cody also demonstrates how different kinds of research practices can enrich our everyday lives and our attempts to understand the world around us.

We will make a committed use of available technologies to explore the ways in which they can help us (or not) to achieve these aims.


Essay 1 & Peer Reviews


Essay 2


Essay 3


Review (evaluative essay)


Small Group Research Project


Class discussion


Final exam


Criteria for evaluation and grading
The Virginia Tech Honor System applies to all activities in this course. [What is Plagiarism?]


[Available from the Tech Bookstore / 118 S. Main St. / 552-6444]
  • Anderson, Lorraine, Scott Slovic, & John P. O'Grady. Literature and the Environment. Longman, 1999. [abbr.=LATE]
  • Cody, Robin. Voyage of a Summer Sun, 1995
  • Diane Hacker. A Writer's Reference (optional but highly recommended)
    • David Gelernter, "In Rats We Trust" (handout)

Other Resources:

Web Tools

English 1106 Schedule

NOTE: we meet in Williams 221 (the "CIC") on Mondays and Fridays, except when announced otherwise, and Williams 220 on Wednesdays; reading assignments are to be completed before the class period on the date they are scheduled.

Monday, January 17

Introduction to Course & CIC

Wednesday, January 19

pp. 506-509 in LATE, "Reading for Meaning"; "Getting Ready for Class Discussion"; Rogers, "Knot" (LATE, p. 61); "Inhabiting Place" (LATE, pp. 163-165); Rexroth, "Incarnation" (LATE, pp. 166-168); Camuto, "Solstice" (pp. 1-2)

Friday, January 21

LATE, pp. 504-506; 509-520 ("Writing about Literature and Culture); work in CIC on Essay 1

Monday, January 24

Work in CIC on Essay 1

Wednesday, January 26

Kingsolver, "The Memory Place" (LATE, pp. 199-204); Stegner, "Wilderness Letter" (LATE, pp. 443-447); Bass, "On Willow Creek" (LATE, pp. 249-258)

Friday, January 28

Work on Essay 1; Draft of Essay 1 posted to the class list by Midnight.

Monday, January 31

Work on Peer Evaluations of Essay 1, to be posted to Mosser & authors by Midnight.

Wednesday, February 2

Finish Bass & Stegner; Mander, "The Walling of Awareness" (LATE, pp. 205-214)

Friday, February 4

Finish Essay 1 and e-mail to Mosser by midnight

Monday, February 7

Gelernter, "In Rats We Trust" (handout); work on Persuasion and Rhetorical Appeals

Wednesday, February 9

Limbaugh, "The Environmental Mindset" (LATE, pp. 439-442); Gary Snyder, excerpt from "The Etiquette of Freedom"; "Song of the Taste," LATE, 14-16 (more on Snyder); Lewis, "On Human Connectedness with Nature" (LATE, pp. 392-401)

Friday, February 11

Work on Essay 2

Monday, February 14

Work on Essay 2 (peer reviews)

Wednesday, February 16

Kaufman, "Confessions of a Developer" (LATE, pp. 413-422); Marge Piercy, "Sand Roads: The Development" (LATE, pp. 402-404) Bingham, "A Woman's Land" (LATE, pp. 424-427)

Friday, February 18

Essay 2 due by Midnight

Monday, February 21

Documentation, Research Methods; LATE, pp, 519-529.

Wednesday, February 23

Library Tour: meet in the Library Lobby by 11 AM.

Friday, February 25

Work on Research Project; Hypertext construction & Web Page design

Monday, February 28

Work on Research Project

Wednesday, March 1

Daniel, "A Word in Favor of Rootlessness" (LATE, pp. 259-264); Berry, "Stay Home" (LATE, pp. 222-223); Polsgrove, "On a Scrap of Land in Henry County" (LATE, pp. 223-229); Dodge, "Living by Life" (LATE, pp. 230-238)

Friday, March 3

Work on Research Project

Monday, March 6

Work on Research Project

Wednesday, March 8

Berry, "A Good Scythe" (LATE, pp. 389-392); Hooks, "Touching the Earth" (LATE, pp. 169-173)

Friday, March 10

Research Projects Due/Begin Essay 3

March 11-19
Spring Break

Monday, March 20

Work on Essay 3

Wednesday, March 22

Cody, pp. 3-65

Friday, March 24

Work on Essay 3

Monday, March 27

Work on Essay 3

Wednesday, March 29

Kittredge, "A Second Chance at Paradise" (LATE, pp. 284-290); Meadows, "Living Lightly and Consistently on the Land" (LATE, pp. 377-380)

Friday, March 31

Essay 3 due at Midnight

Monday, April 3

Williams, "The Clan of the One-Breasted Women" (LATE, pp. 347-352); Meloy, "The Flora and Fauna of Las Vegas" (LATE, pp. 240-249)

Wednesday, April 5

Durning, "The Conundrum of Consumption" (LATE, pp. 371-376); Roszak, "'Take This Job and Shove It" (LATE, pp. 367-371)

Friday, April 7

Estés, "La Mariposa, Butterfly Woman" (LATE, pp. 17-21); Traven, "Assembly Line" (LATE, pp. 356-365)

Monday, April 10

Evaluation: movie review

Wednesday, April 12

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Friday, April 14

The Gods Must Be Crazy (meet in 220)

Monday, April 17

Work on writing your review of The Gods Must Be Crazy

Wednesday, April 19

Cody, pp. 67-135

Friday, April 21

Review due at Midnight

Monday, April 24

Primary experience of the natural world.

Wednesday, April 26

Cody, pp. 137-210

Friday, April 28

Cody, 210-end (meet in Wms 220)

Monday, May 1

Wednesday, May 3

Classes End

Friday, May 5, 7:45-9:45 AM

Final Exam