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EGL 82 W — Writing the Wild: Nature and Outdoor Writing

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Drop Deadline: Oct 4
Unit(s): 3 Units
Tuition: $850
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 4
3 Units
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
Nature and the natural world have inspired much of the most insightful writing about American life, from Henry David Thoreau to Cheryl Strayed. Our finest voices have gone to find themselves in the natural world, or sought refuge there, or grappled for clarity about the messy life they separated themselves from.

This course is for writers interested in the reflective and explorative possibilities of the natural world. A great essay can find as much meaning from an hour in the garden as from a hike up K2. Through readings by John Muir, Edward Abbey, Cheryl Strayed, Cormac McCarthy, Terry Tempest Williams, and Wallace Stegner, we will consider fundamental questions of writing about nature: What is the connection between our “normal” life and our life in the outdoors? Is nature sacred? We will examine the role writing about nature plays in engaging environmental, social, and political issues, and then turn to our own work, learning techniques to connect a reader’s senses to the world of the wild. Then, we will workshop a longer piece with the goal of creating a deeply layered, original piece of polished prose, informed by the tradition of writing about nature. Finally, we will survey publications interested in conservation, adventure travel, and essays on the natural world.

Although the time commitment for this course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to participate at a substantial level.

Brendan Jones, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Brendan Jones’ work has appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Ploughshares, Narrative, Popular Woodworking, and The Huffington Post, and on NPR. He has received grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. His first full-length novel, The Alaskan Laundry, was published earlier this year. He received an MA from Oxford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Robert Finch and John Elder, The Norton Book of Nature Writing (ISBN 978-0393978162)
(Required) Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places (ISBN 978-0143113935)
(Required) Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (ISBN 978-0307592736)
(Required) Nancy Lord, Fishcamp Life on an Alaskan Shore (ISBN 978-1582430706)