Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Easy Under the Apple Boughs: The Natural World in Poetry

Instructor: Ashley Hudson

"It is not the moon, I tell you.
It is these flowers
lighting the yard."
-- Louise GlΓΌck, "Mock Orange"

"Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better."
-- Robert Frost, "Birches"

In his poem "Burnt Norton," T.S. Eliot says, "The roses had the look of flowers that are looked at." As such, this course will immerse students in the consideration of the representation of the natural world in poetry. We will examine such topics as the pathetic fallacy, the concept of a poet's emotional or internal landscape and its impact upon the external landscape of the poem, and the social and literary concerns of ecopoetry. In addition, we will examine how the representation of the natural world in poetry has evolved throughout various periods in poetic history. We'll ask what poetry tells us about the human relationship to nature. How does poetry call upon the natural world to arrive at deeper truths about the human condition?

In addition to reading a myriad of selected texts in this course, students will participate in in-depth discussion and develop a lexicon for discussing contemporary poetry while evolving critical thinking skills specifically relevant to such subject matter. The course will require weekly in-depth discussion with peers and will culminate in final project. No previous poetry writing experience necessary.

Students registering for this course should be advised of a class field trip, tentatively scheduled for the first week of November, which will include a guided eco-tour and a related writing assignment. This field trip would require the students provide their own transportation to Carolina Beach State Park. If a student is unable to attend, an alternate assignment will be provided. More details to come.

Required Texts:

  • Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, edited by Camille T. Dungy
  • The West Side of Any Mountain: Place, Space, and Ecopoetry, by J. Scott Bryson
  • MLA Handbook (8th edition) ISBN: 9781603292627

(All other course readings will be provided on Blackboard.)

Last Update: May 18, 2016