The Beach: Exploring the Literature of the Atlantic Shore (4.5) Examines the interconnection of culture and nature in coastal areas of the Atlantic seaboard.
ENGL 181C The Beach: Exploring the Literature of the Atlantic Shore (4.5)
English 181C—“The Beach: Exploring the Literature of the Atlantic Shore”—should begin with some exploration of the dynamic forces at work on the barrier beach, with special attention to the ways in which great literature has taken what is described in the scientific literature and turned it into art. Examples for discussion could be drawn from the work of such writers as Henry Beston Rachel Carson, and Jan DeBlieu. The general concerns of the course then move to environmental ethics, specifically as ethical questions are embodied in literature’s representation of the human relationship with the other-than-human world. General ethical questions then lead to specific treatments of human and wild animal interaction by various writers. The point is to explore how writers represent the optimal sort of relationship humans can have with the wild world, and what such representation might mean to the ways we personally interact with nature.
From these opening considerations, the course turns to an examination of the way in which writers who focus on a specific region of the coast--South Atlantic barrier islands, for example-- establish a sense of the place in their writing. The course would then narrow its focus even more, moving from a consideration of a regional cultural identity to that of specific towns or narrowly defined areas within the general region. The subject of the narrower focus should then be explored in specific detail, beginning with pre-European cultures, the first explorers and settlers and then moving on to other aspects of the American culture history that make the subject area distinctive. For example, a course on the Low Country of South Carolina might start with the accounts of John Lawson, who published his journal of his own trip up the Santee River in 1701, move to accounts of the rice culture so important to the region in the nineteenth century and to the an examination of the Gullah Geechee culture established by West African slaves on Low Country plantations, and then move to writing from more recent writers, all of which help to define the area’s distinctive cultural and particularly its literary identity.
This course was designed to include an out-of-the-classroom education experience. The enhancement trip should include experiences related to the cultural and natural history of the region. It should provide opportunities to walk in the footsteps of writers whose work is discussed in the classroom. There could be a course fee in addition to tuition for such enhancement experiences.
General Education: GH
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2012
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.