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EGL 58 — Observers of the Natural World: Writing the Personal Nature Essay

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 14—Mar 18
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Jan 16
Units: 3
Tuition: $675
Instructor(s): Peter Fish
Limit: 23
Status: Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Winter
Live Online(About Formats)
Thursdays
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Date(s)
Jan 14—Mar 18
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 16
3 Units
Fees
$675
Instructor(s):
Peter Fish
Limit
23
Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
In her new book, Late Migrations, nature writer Margaret Renkl writes of the arrival of an exotic male scarlet tanager at her backyard bird feeder: “To me he looked like a blood-red, hollow-boned embodiment of grace.” The intersection of the natural world and our human world of loves and losses and hopes of grace can make for profoundly powerful writing. This course will guide you in writing about the natural world in your own sensitive, unique voice. We will work on conceiving, focusing, writing, and revising personal nature essays, with the goal of producing shorter and longer essays suitable for publication. Class discussions and weekly written assignments will hone essential skills: being observant in the natural world, determining your essay’s focus, and knowing when your own personal experiences can come to the foreground and when you should step aside for the scarlet tanager. Assigned readings will include selections from Renkl, along with other notable and accessible contemporary natural history writers including Barry Lopez, Helen Macdonald, and Robert Macfarlane.

No prerequisites—just a passion for nature and a desire to write about it well.

Peter Fish, Writer; Editor; Former Travel Editor, Sunset

Peter Fish received a Lowell Thomas Gold Medal for environmental journalism and Time Inc.’s Henry R. Luce Award. Writers he has edited include Susan Orlean, Jane Smiley, and Tobias Wolff. He was the 2018–19 Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State. Fish received an MA in creative writing from Stanford and a Hoyns Fellowship in fiction from the University of Virginia.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Elder and Finch, The Norton Book of Nature Writing, (College Edition) (ISBN 978-0393978162)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)