Worlding Otherwise: The Ecological Act of Writing

ENGL 010-305

Knar Gavin

M 5:15-8:15

In Worlding Otherwise, we’ll tend our impulses toward ecological forms of literary expression. This class is about writing as communing, or, as Stephen Collis puts it, “what all life does” — “the radical sharing of the means and materials of existence.” Light research, archival exploration, and engagements with manifestos from social movements are a few methods of textual encounter that might animate our writing practices. You’ll be encouraged to document, imaginatively reinhabit, and remediate places and histories of concern. If there are particular social, environmental, or political urgencies that have been beckoning to you, follow them — and then pull them onto the page! And for those who feel driven to write spaces of refuge into existence, this workshop will hold space for that refuge-making.

Kaia Sand has suggested the possibility of forming “a small society around the poetic act.” We’ll embrace this notion as we work within and press beyond traditional genres (poetry, memoir, and fiction among them) to attend to publics, histories, and environments of concern. Reading and writing together as a small, temporary society, our workshop will invest care and curiosity into each text’s operations on the level of theme, style, form and content. We’ll also think about the ecological and social horizons that emerge in our writings: what sorts of social worlds and modes of ecological relation might we choreograph, script, and prefigure in our stories, poems, and mixed-genre experiments?

Course requirements include comradely participation, regular short assignments, and a final portfolio. Many assignments are genre-flexible: this flexibility is designed to retain space for experimentation, exploration, and documentary practice. Writers we will read include Susan Briante, Renee Gladman, Rebecca Solnit, C.S. Giscombe, and Mark Nowak.

This course fulfills Arts & Humanities Approaches to Environmental Inquiry requirement.

Spring 2022