The Natural World: Reading (and Writing) the Environment


English H1204 Fall 1999 

Daniel Mosser

ENGL H1204

Index#: 6122

Office Hours: 12:30-1:30 T TH & by appt.

Office: Williams 216

(540) 231-7797

Class time: 3:30-4:45 T-TH

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.

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.


A précis (10 points); two essays @ 15 points; and a third @ 20 points)


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]

Other Resources:

Web Tools

English H1204 Schedule

NOTE: we meet in Williams 221 (the "CIC") on Tuesdays and Williams 220 on Thursdays

[Revised 10/14/99]

Tuesday, August 24

Intro. to course & CIC

Thursday, August 26

pp. 506-509 in LATE, "Reading for Meaning"; "Getting Ready for Class Discussion"; Gelernter, "In Rats We Trust" (handout); Gary Snyder, excerpt from "The Etiquette of Freedom"; "Song of the Taste," LATE, 14-16 (more on Snyder)

Tuesday, August 31

Read "Summaries" (how to write a précis); Work on précis

Thursday, September 2

Thoreau, "Solitude" (LATE, pp. 48-52)

Tuesday, September 7

Précis due by Midnight; work in CIC

Thursday, September 9

Rogers, "Knot" (LATE, p. 61); "Inhabiting Place" (LATE, pp. 163-165); Rexroth, "Incarnation" (LATE, pp. 166-168); Hughes, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" (LATE, pp. 168-169)

Tuesday, September 14

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

Thursday, September 16

Kingsolver, "The Memory Place" (LATE, pp. 199-204); Limbaugh, "The Environmental Mindset" (LATE, pp. 439-442); Stegner, "Wilderness Letter" (LATE, pp. 443-447); Bass, "On Willow Creek" (LATE, pp. 249-258)

Friday, September 17

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

Monday, September 20

Peer Evaluations of Essay 1 posted to Mosser & authors by Midnight.

Tuesday, September 21

Finish final drafts of Essay 1 & mail to Mosser by Midnight

Thursday, September 23

Jerry Mander, "The Walling of Awareness" (LATE, pp. 205-214); Hooks, "Touching the Earth" (LATE, pp. 169-173)

Tuesday, September 28

Work on Essay 2

Thursday, September 30

Berry, "A Good Scythe" (LATE, pp. 389-392); Lewis, "On Human Connectedness with Nature" (LATE, pp. 392-401); Kittredge, "A Second Chance at Paradise" (LATE, pp. 284-290)

Tuesday, October 5

Work on Essay 2/Research Project

Thursday, October 7

Kaufman, "Confessions of a Developer" (LATE, pp. 413-422); Bingham, "A Woman's Land" (LATE, pp. 424-427); Meadows, "Living Lightly and Consistently on the Land" (LATE, pp. 377-380); Abbey, "Eco-Defense" (LATE, pp. 344-347)

Tuesday, October 12

Essay 2 due by Midnight

Thursday, October 14

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

Tuesday, October 19

Work on Essay 3 /Research Project

Thursday, October 21

Sáenz, "Exile, El Paso, Texas" (LATE, pp. 309-316); Daniel, "A Word in Favor of Rootlessness" (LATE, pp. 259-264); Berry, "Stay Home" (LATE, pp. 222-223)

Tuesday, October 26

Work on Essay 3 / Research Project

Thursday, October 28

Dodge, "Living by Life" (LATE, pp. 230-238); Polsgrove, "On a Scrap of Land in Henry County" (LATE, pp. 223-229); Estés, "La Mariposa, Butterfly Woman" (LATE, pp. 17-21)

Tuesday, November 2

Work on Research Project /Essay 3

Thursday, November 4

Kerouac, "Alone on a Mountaintop" (LATE, pp. 191-199); Houston, "Blizzard Under a Blue Sky" (LATE, pp. 184-188); Dillard, "Living Like Weasels" (LATE, pp. 4-7)

Tuesday, November 9

Essay 3 due by Midnight

Thursday, November 11

Roszak, "'Take This Job and Shove It" (LATE, pp. 367-371; Durning, "The Conundrum of Consumption" (LATE, pp. 371-376); Traven, "Assembly Line" (LATE, pp. 356-365)

Tuesday, November 16

Work on Research Project; Research Project Due by 5 PM

Thursday, November 18


Saturday, Nov. 20-Sunday Nov. 28

Thanksgiving Break

Tuesday, November 30


Thursday, December 2


Tuesday, December 7

Last Day of Classes

Thursday, December 16, 1:05-3:05 PM

Final Exam