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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 12—Oct 26
Time: 9:00 am—3:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 5
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $380
Instructor(s): Lynn Stegner
Limit: 15
9:00 am—3:00 pm
Oct 12—Oct 26
2 days
Drop By
Oct 5
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 Saturdays at Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, a stunning 1,200-acre natural laboratory usually only open to visitors through docent-led tours. Students will arrive having read a selection of excerpts from such writers as Aldo Leopold, Elizabeth Kolbert, Wallace Stegner, David Quammen, Craig Childs, and Annie Dillard. The workshop will begin by considering the narrative structure, point of view, and intention, for example, in each personal essay or informative inquiry into subject. A lecture addressing the compositional essentials of nature writing, like research, significant details, and dramatic architecture, will follow. Then 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, followed by brief presentations. Over the interim two weeks, students will compose their own environmentally based short pieces for discussion on the closing Saturday. This boots-on-the-trail intensive offers a practical understanding of how to effectively communicate engagement within the natural world by 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.

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 received a Faulkner Society Gold Medal. Her novel Because a Fire Was in My Head was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She has received an NEA fellowship and a Fulbright scholarship, and is finishing a new novel.

Textbooks for this course:

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