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Picture of Literature, Writing, and the Natural World

Literature, Writing, and the Natural World

Editor(s): James Guignard, T. P. Murphy
Contributors: William A. Hendricks, Danelle Connor, William P. Keeth, Dan Malachuk, Bradley A. Holtman, James S. Guignard,

Book Description

The English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities held its annual meeting in 2006 at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. The conference theme was “Literature, Writing, and the Natural World.” This collection grows out of the conference and indicates the desire to understand all aspects of our relationship with the natural world, the function of literature in clarifying that relationship (in ways science and politics cannot), and the role of the literature teacher-scholar wanting to respond to pressures of environmental change.

In these times, interpretation is a vital task, not only for the way it educates us about our attitudes toward nature, but because it develops the crucial skills of looking closely, engaging, reflecting, and responding. One could argue that, as a culture, Americans are behind the curve in understanding the ways we depend upon a healthy relationship with nature, and one way (among many) depends upon examining it through texts and textual representation. When the writers here dig into The Main Woods, Jayber Crow, the poetry of Pablo Guevara, or the movie Crash, they are contributing to our understanding of the ways in which we view nature and how that view plays a role in the way we relate to nature.

These days, many disciplines engage global warming and other environmental issues routinely, and the literature classroom should be no different. Just as we read a book and address fundamental themes such as “What does it mean to love?” or “How do we develop identity?” we should also be asking “What is my responsibility when I decide what resources to use?” If we understand literature as equipment for living in a warming world, we may be able to help students make some sense out of their world and some decisions about how to act.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-1381-5
ISBN-10: 1-4438-1381-8
Date of Publication: 01/11/2009
Pages / Size: 230 / A5
Price: £39.99


James Guignard is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Composition at Mansfield University, where he teaches composition, advanced and professional writing, composition theory, and environmental literature. He has published essays in Liberal Education, as well as A Journal for the Literature of Place, Virginia English Bulletin, and an essay on Rachel Carson and pedagogy forthcoming in Currently, he is researching the rhetoric of the natural gas industry in northcentral Pennsylvania.

T. P. Murphy is Associate Professor of English at Mansfield University in the mountains of northcentral Pennsylvania, where he teaches nature writing, early British literature and composition. He writes nature essays, one of which he read on “Living on Earth,” the NPR environmental news program. Two of his articles on Nessmuk, the nineteenth-century northern Pennsylvania nature writer, have been included in books on American nature writing, and he writes a monthly column reviewing books about nature for Mountain Home, a regional magazine. He is currently working on a collection of essays about the sugar maples around his house.