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Course Planning by Program

2023-24

Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus


Revision Date: 24-Apr-23
 

Special Topics in Writing: Nature & the Environment




Credits:
Semester Dates: Last day to drop without a grade: 06-12-2023 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 07-10-2023 - Refund Policy
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration

Faculty

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View Faculty Statement

Course Description

In this course students develop strategies from the creative nonfiction writer’s toolbox in order to tell more powerful stories about the natural and built environment. Students will learn to turn journal observations into finished short essays, and to integrate library and field research with narrative writing into a final essay. Prerequisite: English Composition


Essential Objectives

1. Explore seminal works and traditions of nature and environmental writing and their categories.
2. Identify major environmental issues and investigate their impact on local environments.
3. Read selected relevant texts in order to understand and critically examine narrative structure, use of imagery, and other stylistic choices, in order to apply those techniques.
4. Practice journaling techniques to develop a systematic approach that includes documenting and evaluating the personal experience of place, capturing raw data in nature and developing that information into viable topics for exploration.
5. Demonstrate a consistent command of standard English grammar and usage by examining word choice, sentence structure, description, reflection, persuasion, and other stylistic choices and considering the impact of these choices on their writing.
6. Complete a significant final essay on a local environment issue – urban, agricultural, or natural – that incorporates field and library research, and both narrative and expository writing skills developed in this course.


Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.


Required Textbooks and Resources

This course uses one or more textbooks/books/simulations.

Summer 2023 textbook details will be available on 2022-11-28. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be specific to this class. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks/books.

Link to Textbooks for this course in eCampus.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.


Methods

Each week, we will be reading selections from the text. We will discuss those selections in weekly discussions. You will journal each week and share your journal observations with peers and me. You will offer constructive suggestions to classmates on topics and writing. I will often offer additional materials that relate to a week's topics. We will implement and practice the following tools:

  • Narrative structure
  • Braided structure
  • Figurative language
  • Sensory image
  • Scene writing
  • Dialogue and monologue
  • First, second, and third person points of view.
  • Developing theme
  • Creating context, including in setting.

Evaluation Criteria

Weekly work:

Your weekly participation each week is worth 70% of the grade. You must earn a minimum of 42% in order to pass the course.

For full points each week, all required work (reflections on the reading, contributions to the discussion, and constructive suggestions) must be contributed by deadlines. You must raise at least one question. You must offer comments to at least two classmates. All your work must be thoroughly developed; free of sentence structure, grammatical, and mechanical errors; show strong evidence of original thinking and observation; show accurate reading comprehension and sound critical thinking skills; and show excellent utilization of the standards of the creative non-fiction as they apply to nature writing.

Points are deducted for lateness, incompleteness, lack of material contribution ("This looks great!" kinds of brief comments), structural error, lack of adequate citation where needed, lack of clarity, and so on.

Work posted on Monday or later receives no points. Nor do I respond to it. All work must be posted by Sunday night at midnight to receive points; please see the weekly deadlines for full points.

Final project (see objective 6):

Your final project is worth 30%. You must earn at least a 65% (D) in order to pass the class.

Full points are awarded to outstanding work which complies with all requirements and demonstrates a thorough understanding of all course objectives. Each component will meet length requirements, have a clear central focus, express and fully develop original ideas, conform to creative writing standards as pertains to the nature writing genre, and use tools appropriate to the work. Work must be free of grammatical and mechanical errors. Work must incorporate research and be free of plagiarism; both in text citations and full end citations must be used, and MLA must be used for citation.

Points are deducted for lateness, failure to incorporate research, failure to adequately cite, structural error, lack of audience awareness, and lack of original thinking. See the assignment rubric.



Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

 HighLow
A+10098
A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
P10060
NPLess than 600


Weekly Schedule


Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments
 

1

Introductions to each other and the course

  

See this article in the New York Times, 1984: https://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/22/books/the-nature-of-nature-writing.html

  

SEE THE FULL ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE IN THE CANVAS COURSE SITE FOR DUE DATES AND MORE SPECIFICS.

1. Introduce yourself to the class. As part of your introduction, explain your ideas with and relationship to nature, and why you wanted to take this class. What do you hope to accomplish here? What is your biggest concern as you start the class? Reply to the introductions of two classmates.

2. Engage with the New York Times article. What if anything might have become irrelevant between 1984 and now? What parts do you agree with and why? What do you think the writer missed or got wrong; what are the shortcomings of the article?

BE SURE YOU HAVE THE BOOK. WE START USING IT NEXT WEEK. I CANNOT MAKE COPIES OF CHAPTERS AND EMAIL THEM TO YOU OR POST THEM TO CANVAS.

 

2

The Trailhead

  

Read chapter one, including the relevant readings.

Read "The Greatest Nature Essay Ever" by Brian Doyle: https://orionmagazine.org/article/the-greatest-nature-essay-ever/

  

1. Post a discussion question related to this week's topic. Reply to at least one classmate's question.

2. Post a critique of any of this week's relevant readings. Reply to at least one classmate's critique.

3. Choose prompt B or C. Write an essay, 500 words max, in response to the prompt you choose. Use Doyle's advice for the introduction paragraph. Critique the essays of two classmates: What did each do particularly well? Offer one piece of specific advice to each classmate for strengthening the essay.

 

3

A Short History of Nature Writing

  

Read chapter 2.

Explore Ecopoesia and select on your own 3 pieces to read, in whatever category/categories you choose: https://ecopoesia.com/

Evelyn White, "Black Women and the Wilderness": https://engl250environarratives.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/white-black-women-and-the-wilderness.pdf

Linda Hogan, "Dwellings": https://indianareview.org/2016/11/online-feature-by-linda-hogan/

Conclusions, UNC: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/#:~:text=Synthesize%2C%20don't%20summarize.,Pull%20it%20all%20together.

  

1. Raise a discussion question. Reply to the discussion question of at least one classmate.

2. Do the research exercise on pages 34-35, A-E. Post your summary. Reply to the summary of at least one classmate.

3. Critique any of the posted readings (Ecopoesia, White, Hogan); what do you think are the piece's specific strengths? What is a weakness or limitation of the piece? Reply to at least one classmate's post.

4. Choose prompt A or B, page 36. When you post your writing, make clear whether it is prompt A or B. Pay special attention to writing the conclusion; try using tips from the UNC handout. Critique the essays of two classmates; what are the specific strengths? Offer at least one constructive suggestion for strengthening the piece to each.

 

4

Seeing the World, Believing the World

  

Read chapter 3, including the relevant readings.

  

1. Raise a discussion question on this week's readings and topic. Reply to the question of at least one classmate.

2. Critique any of the relevant readings; what do you think are the piece's specific strengths? What is a weakness or limitation of the piece? Reply to at least one classmate's post.

3. Choose any two of the exercises on pages 48-49. Post your exercises in one posting. Reply to the exercises of any classmate.

4. Choose A or D from the prompts on page 49. If A, keep it to 750 words max; make sure it is at least 350 words. Critique the work of two classmates; point out specific strengths, and offer each at least one specific piece of advice for strengthening the writing.

 

5

Living Maps

  

Chapter 4, including the relevant readings.

  

1. Raise a discussion question on this week's topic. Reply to the question of at least one classmate.

2. Critique any of the relevant readings; what do you think are the piece's specific strengths? What is a weakness or limitation of the piece? Reply to at least one classmate's post.

3. Do any two of the exercises on pages 63-64. Post a paragraph explaining how the exercises were useful to your thinking about and practice of writing; be specific. Reply to at least one classmate's post.

4. Choose prompt A, B, or C on page 65. Post your completed piece; make clear which prompt it is. Critique the work of two classmates, offering your ideas about the work's strengths and at least one specific way in which it can be improved.

 

6

The Writer in Place

  

Chapter 5, including the relevant readings.

  

1. Raise a discussion question related to the week's topic. Reply to the question of at least one classmate.

2. Critique any of the relevant readings; what do you think are the piece's specific strengths? What is a weakness or limitation of the piece? Reply to at least one classmate's post.

C. Do exercises B and D on page 77. Post a summary of what you discovered. Reply to at least one classmate.

D. Choose from prompts A, B, or D. Post what you've written (all three for B, so keep the initial exercises to just 2-3 paragraphs). Critique the exercises of two classmates: what are the strengths? What is at least one piece of advice you can offer for strengthening the writing?

 

7

People and Place

  

Read chapter 6 including the relevant readings.

  

1. Raise a discussion question related to the week's topic. Reply to the question of a classmate.

2. Critique any of the relevant readings; what do you think are the piece's specific strengths? What is a weakness or limitation of the piece? Reply to at least one classmate's post.

3. Do exercises A and B on pages 89-90. What do you discover? Post a summary. Reply to the summary of a classmate.

4. Do prompt C on page 91. Include dialogue from at leasttwo speakers who have very different voices. Refer to these "real-life" dialogue tips: https://blog.leeandlow.com/2017/08/15/10-dos-and-donts-for-writing-realistic-dialogue/ Post your writing, then critique the work of two classmates, pointing out specific strengths and offering at least one specific suggestion for strengthening the work to each.

 

8

The River Above, The River Below

  

Chapter 7, including the relevant readings

  

1. Raise a discussion question on the week's topic. Reply to the question of a classmate.

2. Respond to any of the relevant readings (or more than one). Reply to a classmate's post.

3. Choose from and do Exercises 1 and 2 (together), 3, or 4 (pages 101-102). Post a summary of the exercise. Reply to a classmate's summary.

4. Choose prompt B, C, or D (page 103). Post your writing. Critique the writings of two classmates, as usual pointing out at least one strength of each and at least one specific suggestion for strengthening the piece.

 

9

Activism and a World Larger than Ourselves.

  

Chapters 8 and 9, including the relevant readings for each.

  

1. Post a discussion question related to the week's topics. Reply to the question of a classmate.

2. Post a response to any two relevant readings (in one posting), one from each chapter. Reply to the response of a classmate.

3. Exercises: B on page 114 and C and D on page 124. D refers to Exercise A; please disregard that. Instead, replace "Exercise A" with "Exercise C" when you read it. In other words, after completing Exercise C, come up with a list of books and articles from the library's databases that you could read for research; find online resources; and so on. In one post, summarize each, but be specific about C and D; what kinds of research and sources can you do, and what resources did you fin? reply to a classmate's exercise post.

4. Choose one: Prompt B or C on page 115, or B on 124. Post your writing. Critique the writing of two classmates, offering specific strengths of the writing and at least one suggestion for improving the piece to each.

 

10

The Nature and Environmental Essay, Story, and Poem

  

Chapter 10, including the relevant readings.

  

1. Raise a discussion question related to the week's topic. reply to the question of a classmate.

2. Respond to at least one (more is fine) of the relevant readings. Reply to a classmate's post.

3. Choose exercise B or C from page 138. Post your writing. Reply to the post of a classmate.

4. Choose prompt A, B, or C, and write accordingly. Post your piece. Critique the work of two classmates, offering observations about strengths and specific advice to strengthen the piece.

 

11

We are in the home stretch!

Writing is Rewriting, and a Trail Guide.

  

Chapters 11 and 12, including the relevant readings.

  

1. Post a discussion question related the week's topics. Reply to the question of a classmate.

2. Respond to any of the relevant readings, one or more than one. Reply to the post of a classmate.

3. Exercises A and B on pages 152 and 153, plus exercise C on 168. Post these all in one single posting, as three separate paragraphs. Reply to the exercises of a classmate.

4. Prompt D on 153 or A on 168 (ignore "Exercise 1" in that prompt; any piece of writing will do). Post your work, and then critique the writing of two classmates.

 

12

Reaching the end

  

No outside readings this week.

  

Please submit your final writing project by Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Submit in both the drop box for the assignment AND the discussion thread set up for it. Please respond in detail to the works of two classmates by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. In your responses, consider the following:

What did the writer do particularly well? Point out specific examples.

What might have strengthened the piece of writing? Offer specific examples. For example, if the writing would have benefitted from more imagery (or less) in places, point out those places and tell the writer how the different approach might have strengthened those passages.

We're done!

 

Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.


Participation Expectations

You are expected to do several types of postings each week. One type is simply to raise a question for your classmates and me to consider. That can be as simple as a sentence.

Each week you will also be posting journal entries, responses to readings, and responses to classmates.

Deadlines

Each week our week begins on Tuesday and ends on Monday. To receive up to full points for weekly work, it must be submitted by the following deadlines:

  • by Thursday, 11:59 pm: At least one weekly discussion question must be posted.
  • by Friday, 11:59 pm: Your response to the weekly reading must be posted.
  • By Saturday at 11:59 p.m.: Your journal entry must be posted.
  • By Sunday at 11:59 pm: All graded work for the week must be complete (this means responding to other peers and any late work).
  • Remember, you can always post before the deadlines. However, work posted after the deadlines is marked late. Please do not wait until the last possible moment to post.


Missing & Late Work Policy

Work posted on Mondays or later is not graded, nor do I respond to it. Mondays are your day off to prepare for the coming week, and my day to work on assessments and grading.

Late work loses one point per day. See the course schedule for deadlines for each assignment.

When a week's work is missed, it cannot be made up except in cases of a documented emergency (police report, hospital report, doctor's note, and so on). Any work posted after 11:59 pm on Sundays is not graded unless you notify me of an emergency. Having to work and so on is not an emergency.


Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:


CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.


Academic Integrity


CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.