Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ENG 269
Course Title:
Wilderness Literature
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores writings about wilderness and the natural world, giving attention to the relationship between nature and culture. Considers a variety of historical perspectives through essays, poetry, book-length nonfiction, novels, and film. Examines efforts to rethink the concept of wilderness with respect to law, gender, work, race, and the built environment (e.g., urban forests, gardens, farming) while addressing contemporary concerns for global environmental sustainability. Prerequisites: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, student should be able to:

  1. Use literary analysis to understand, critique, and discuss writings about wilderness and the natural world, recognizing important themes, concepts, and issues.
  2. Recognize how literature shapes and challenges our attitudes and actions towards nature€”and how our ideas about the meaning of wilderness continue to evolve.
  3. Apply an understanding of wilderness literature to the vision of global environmental sustainability.
  4. Write clearly about the complex ideas and questions pertaining to the literature of wilderness and the natural world.

Course Activities and Design

Students will read and discuss assigned course materials, responding in writing assignments both formal and informal. Class time may include lecture, small? and large?group discussion, reading and annotating poems and other texts, viewing film clips, listening to audio, giving individual and group  presentations, doing group in?class projects, and possibly taking excursions outside of the classroom.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Tools for assessment may include quizzes, reading responses, oral presentations, tests, midterm exam, final exam, field reports, film reviews, formal academic essays, in?class writing, and out?of?class writing.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Point?of?view, characterization, structure, setting, tone, diction, persuasion/argument, description, figurative language, genres of wilderness literature (e.g., personal essay, profile, historical realism, satire, field notes, diary, short story, polemic, novel, poetry, fiction, documentary and narrative film), Colonial Era, Age of Romanticism, Garden of Eden, Transcendentalism, Age of Realism, Naturalism, Wilderness, tourism, leisure, the sublime, the frontier, mountains, Manifest Destiny, democracy, the Oregon Trail, animals and animal rights, risk, surviving wilderness, U.S. federal government, industry and mechanization, conservation, communitarian/individual experience of nature, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness Act of 1964, National Wildlife Refuge System, role of human beings in the natural world, The Chain of Being, interdependence of nature and culture, environmental movement, defending wilderness, bio?diversity, global environmental sustainability, eco?criticism, gender, women and wilderness, deep ecology, eco?defense,  wilderness in western and eastern religions, class and race in the construction of wilderness, rethinking wilderness, €œwildness,€ dualism, the practice of the wild, hunting, agriculture, gardening, nature and work, urban forestry, landscape design, adventure travel, nature?deficit disorder, concept of the commons (e.g., ocean and sky), NPS Night Sky Team, dark sky movement.

Skills and competencies: close reading, analysis, synthesis, writing about literature, oral presentations, discussion, independent research, developing personal positions, defending personal positions.