Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592:Writing About Place

Instructor: Kimberly Faxon Hemingway

Adhering to Wendell Berry's notion that in order to know who we are we must know where we are, and Patricia Hampl's claim that "geography is the first self", this course will focus on the construction of identity through the lens of place. As we approach the works of Rick Bass, Gretel Ehrlich, James Galvin, Bill McKibben, David Quammen, Janisse Ray, Susanna Antonetta, and Terry Tempest Williams, we will endeavor to ask the following questions:

  • What is the connection between landscape and identity?
  • What are the biases of gender, geography, and culture we bring to our inquiry of the natural world?
  • What is the meaning of "bioregionalism" and a politics of place? What does it mean to fully invest ourselves in our local environment?

Students will evaluate how their identities have been formed and influenced by where they have lived through two major writing projects: a memoir focusing on place and identity, and a cultural and/or natural history of the place they call home.

Additionally, each student will be required to do an oral presentation that focuses on the work of one of the authors we read; the presentation should include the following:

  1. biographical information about the author,
  2. a discussion of how the concerns of the work fit in to the larger themes/trends/issues of writing about place, and
  3. provide a close literary reading of key passages in the work.

Last Update: March 18, 2009