550 - 01: Studies in African American Literature
African American Environmental Literature
Meeting Times: TR 11:00 am- 12: 15 pm
In this particular version of Studies in African American
literature, we will discuss African American writers’ interest in environmental
issues, their engagement with the environmental movement in America, and trace
the intellectual roots for an environmental justice movement. Because of the legacies of slavery and
sharecropping, African American writers have stressed equal access to public
facilities (such as parks), the need for land ownership, and the importance of
social justice to any proper interaction with the environment. Unlike many mainstream environmentalists, who
have stressed the need for maintaining a pristine nature, African Americans have
often viewed human relationships to nature as a kind of enlightened stewardship
that freed up human creativity, while benefiting nature, as well. Finally, African Americans have opposed the
rigid racial and environmental determinism prevalent within the early
environmentalist movement, and stressed the ways that culture, history, and
social relationships influence human interaction with nature.
Grades will consist of two exams, a reading journal, class participation,
a report related to your final paper, and a long final research paper.
Writers may include Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt,
George Marion McClellan, W. E. B. Du Bois, Sterling Brown, Alice Walker,
Jamaica Kincaid, Marilyn Nelson, Ed Roberson, and Percival Everett.
ENGL 102 or 105; junior standing. Cross-listed with PAS 551.
See other sections of this course