This course is an in-depth exploration of human and environmental relationships in (U.S.) America, from the pre-Columbian era until today. We will examine the diverse ways in which nature has been conceptualized as an idea, how ideas about nature have led to distinct forms of environmental engagement, and how those interactions have impacted ecological and human wellbeing. From Native American perspectives and early colonial frontier expansion to resource extraction and environmental conservation movements (national park system, Dakota Access Pipeline protests, etc), this class is both a cultural history of changing conceptualizations of nature through time as well as a critical examination of the tangible effects of prominent ideas-such as mastery, improvement, wilderness, progress, and preservation-on American landscapes and bodies. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to environmental (in)justice, focusing on disparities across race, class, and gender. Highly interdisciplinary, this course draws on English Literature, History, and Anthropology, as well as Cultural, American, and Environmental studies, while examining primary and secondary sources including travel journals, literature, films, advertisements, and other cultural documents. Through exploring case studies in American environments and conducting a final "fieldwork" project, students will not only better understand nature past and present, but develop skills of analysis, interpretation, reflection, critique, and exposition.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU BA; AS HUM; AS SD I; FA HUM; AR HUM; FA CPSC