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WSP 70 — Nature Writing at Jasper Ridge

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturdays
Course Format: Off-campus
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Oct 20—Oct 27
Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 13
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $375
Instructor(s): Lynn Stegner
Limit: 15
Status: Closed
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Oct 20—Oct 27
2 days
Drop By
Oct 13
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Lynn Stegner
Some of the finest and most moving writing in the English language has arisen from direct experience of the natural world. This intensive workshop will take place over two consecutive Saturdays at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, a stunning 1,200-acre natural laboratory usually open only to visitors through docent-led tours. Students will arrive having read a selection of excerpts from writers such as Aldo Leopold, Elizabeth Kolbert, Wallace Stegner, David Quammen, Craig Childs, and Annie Dillard, among others. The workshop will begin with a discussion of these works that considers their narrative structure, point of view, and intention (personal essay or informative inquiry into a subject). Following that, there will be a lecture addressing the compositional essentials of nature writing, like research, significant details, and dramatic architecture. A midday hike will develop our observational skills, as students discover their own individual literary path into a unique landscape. The post-lunch session will include a writing exercise generated by the hike. Over the interim week, students will compose their own environmentally-based short pieces for discussion on the subsequent Saturday. This bootson- the-trail intensive offers a practical understanding of how to effectively communicate engagement within the natural world, employing an array of perspectives, from the scientific to the spiritual.

Students should bring a notebook and a bag lunch, wear sturdy shoes, and expect to do a moderate amount of walking. All students must provide their own transportation to and from Jasper Ridge. The meeting location and other details will be emailed to students before the course starts.

Grade restriction: No letter grade

Lynn Stegner, Author

Lynn Stegner has published four novels and a collection of stories. Undertow and Fata Morgana were both nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and Pipers at the Gates of Dawn was awarded a Faulkner Society Gold Medal. Her novel Because a Fire Was in My Head was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a Fulbright Scholarship to Ireland.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.