Literature and the Land (Honors)
Taught by Amy Wood
This discussion-based course presents an opportunity to read and respond to literature that explores the relationship between people and the natural world. We consider a variety of topics: What is nature? What are our obligations to the natural world, and how do those obligations inform–or conflict with–our obligations to one another? What constitutes a sense of place, and what role does this concept play in developing a sustainable relationship with the land? As we consider the way writers have viewed nature, we will examine and shape our own attitudes and beliefs about the relationship between the written word and the world around us. Analytical and creative writing assignments will provide opportunities both for analysis of the readings and for introspection. In addition, an informal personal journal of observations and reactions will help provide shape and direction to the Chewonki experience.
Writer, philosopher, and small farmer Wendell Berry boldly asserts, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” During our semester together, we will explore this idea of a fundamental connection between self, community, and place. To what degree are we shaped by the places we come from? How does this connection reflect differing eras and voices? Given the complex challenges our world faces, it is more essential than ever that we live in right relationship with nature, but what would such a relationship look like? Are we 21st century humans part of, or apart from, the natural world? What role can “sense of place” play in forging a just ethic with regard to our communities, both human and beyond? We will reflect, too, on personal and immediate topics: what is happening here at Chewonki, and how do our individual experiences relate to larger issues? Whether it involves harvesting potatoes at the farm, waking up in a tent in the North Woods, or investigating each of the five points on our peninsula, daily life at Chewonki will provide context to help us examine our own relationships with the land.