Environmental Literature

With Dr. Deborah Barrett as a guide, this course explores the intersection of literature and nature through the analysis of contemporary and classical texts.

This course will focus on two branches of writing about the environment:  (1) The poetic writing of the traditional American romantic writers and contemporary ecopoets, emphasizing how these writers view, use, and creatively describe the natural world and (2) Nonfiction nature writing, which demonstrates the use of literary language to attempt to surface concerns about the environment and to transform the thoughts and behavior of society.  We will explore the role of literature in the human relationship with our environment to understand both and we will read writers ranging from poets to scientific and literary essayists.  Students will conduct literary analysis of the texts and be exposed to the major approaches to literature using ecocriticism.  The readings will come mostly from contemporary nonfiction writers, such as Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Barry Lopez, Rebecca Solnit, Annie Dillard, Barbara Kingsolver, Wallace Stegner, and Terry Tempest Williams but also include classic writers, such as Emerson, Thoreau and selected ecopoets such as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Mary Oliver, and others.


Section Instructor Format Schedule start date
MLSC 559 Deborah J. Barrett On-campus 6:15 – 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Instructor: Deborah J. Barrett

Deborah J. Barrett, Ph.D., is professor of the practice of writing and communication at Rice University, where she teaches graduate courses in academic writing and research and creative writing, and undergraduate courses in leadership communication, negotiations and consulting. She has published articles on literature, communication and leadership topics and serves on the editorial board of several scholarly journals. Her book, "Leadership Communication," is in its fourth edition and is one of the top-selling texts in professional communication programs. She has participated in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival since 2007 and has been admitted to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference four times: three for her creative nonfiction and most recently for her fiction. She is currently writing and publishing creative nonfiction essays under the name Deborah Burch-Lavis and has started a novel. Her recently published personal essay, “The Last Christmas,” is included in the anthology Shifts (MuseWrite Press), a 2015 USA Best Book Awards finalist. Dr. Barrett holds a bachelor's degree in English and speech and a master's degree in English from the University of Houston, as well as a doctorate in English from Rice.

Term: Fall 2018

Start Date: Sept. 05, 2018

End Date: Nov. 14, 2018

Schedule: 6:15 – 9:30 p.m.

Length: Wednesdays

Location: Rice campus

Note: This course is part of the Graduate Liberal Studies program. For more information on how to apply, click ADMISSIONS below.

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