UN3000: Nature Deconstructed | M. Myers

Slavic Languages
Undergraduate Lecture
Tu Th 2:40-3:55PM

As the American geographer Peirce F. Lewis insists, “Landscapes mirror and landscapes matter... Our human landscape is our unwitting autobiography, reflecting our tastes, our values, our aspirations, and even our fears in tangible, visible form.” Russia, Canada, and the United States rank as the first, third, and fourth largest countries in the world; together they make up almost one-quarter of the total landmass. This geographic fact is reflected in each nation’s culture; the natural world (and its expansiveness) is closely tied to cultural expressions of Russian, Canadian, and American nationalism and identity. In this course we will read poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction through the lens of eco-criticism, to learn how Russian and North American writers have imagined a cultural relationship to the immense landscape and nature around them. Within these various artistic contexts, we will study and challenge the concept of nature as it has been constructed in our culture according to binaries—wilderness versus civilization, animal versus human, rural versus urban, femininity versus masculinity, periphery versus center. Ultimately, in writing about nature, and about our relationship to the natural world, we are writing about ourselves. This course pays special attention to how literary representations of nature reveal insights into North American and Russian culture and national identity, as well as how our inherited cultural paradigms, in turn, shape our perception of nature. How have we shaped the natural world, and how has it shaped us?

Link to Vergil
Note: only courses offered during the two previous semesters have active Vergil links.