Sem/Lit of Cabin in the Woods
Term: Spring 2021 - Full Term (02/01/2021 - 05/11/2021)
Grade Mode: Letter Grading
Times & Locations
|Start Date||End Date||Days||Time||Location|
|2/1/2021||5/11/2021||MW||5:10pm - 6:30pm||ONLINE|
787 English Major Seminar The Cabin in the Woods M W 5:10-6:30. Online.
Professor Diane Freedman
Beginning with Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854), this seminar will explore the tradition of Walden in American life and culture, with a focus on selected literary works and literary practices clearly inspired by it. Active in-class discussion, some lectures, presentations, short response papers, and a final research paper. Authors from among the following: Thoreau, Louise Erdrich, Annie Dillard, Julia Corbett, May Sarton, Bernd Heinrich, Henry Beston, Ian Marshall, John Haines, Sue Hubbell, Anne LaBastille, Wyman Richardson, Cynthia Huntington, Tom Montgomery Fate, E.B. White, Lou Ureneck, and/or others. While the authors on our reading list almost all speak of literal houses or cabins in which they sought a writerly solitude, perhaps any absorbing book can be thought of itself as a cabin. Or solitary space. Or what you propose stands as such (a hammock? A train compartment for a traveling writer? a favorite restaurant booth?)
What can emerge from a sojourn or several in cabin and woods, for author and readers? Though we will read almost exclusively prose, suggestions for other expressive outcomes are welcome in our discussions. Moreover, what thoughts of self, others, community, and/as environment emerge? What common styles and strategies of writing? How might gender, race, age, stage, location, time spent, weather/conditions, connected activities and the like affect that writing and the thinking? How do our authors and we variously come to understand nature, retreat, home, being-at-home, solitude, self-reliance, sustainability ?
Further: Has each writer in turn honored the presumed memoir “pact”(in a work purportedly non-fiction or autobiographical poetry) of telling the truth to the best of his/her/their knowledge and ability? How do we know? What messages and details come down to us about observing, understanding, interacting with, and advocating for nature or specific places and living things? Why have there been so many of these types of books? What dangers are equated with a writer’s solitude and retreat from society, from technology, from institutions, from relationships? (Think woman alone in the wilderness, think aversion, avoidance, denial, hermit, misanthrope, loneliness.) Does time spent in a writers’ colony abrogate this myth or mission of the solitary writer? If, as E.B. White also asserts, Walden is not (as advertised) the simple and sincere account of a life in the woods but instead an account of a “journey into the mind,” and we compare other course memoirs with Thoreau’s, what can we then conclude about the role of reflection (or “telling”) versus action (or “showing”) in a memoir or “year of” account? What can we conclude about the mind of writers insisting on writing about place and living, if only temporarily, at a sub-modern pace (while nonetheless assuming dissemination of the result of their experiment to those not similarly off the grid)? Questions or suggestions: Diane.Freedman@unh.edu. This course satisfies post-1900 and Capstone requirements requirements in the English majors (and the seminar requirement for honors in English) and can count towards Women’s Studies and/or American Studies majors and minors. Besides English majors and minors, this course is open to student in various Environmental studies or science programs and interested others and counts towards the Dual Sustainability major. WI.
This course satisfies a Post-1800 literature requirement for English Department Majors.
This course may be taken for Capstone credit by English majors; please fill out a Capstone Declaration Form. Contact the ENGL Main Office for assistance: 603-862-1313.
This course may count towards Women's Studies and/or American Studies majors & minors.
Freshman excluded. Writing Intensive.