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Learning from the Landscape - ENGLISH 242


3 credits

Prerequisites: None

Satisfies requirements for: Interdisciplinary (ID) LSA Area Distribution Requirements, Foundations & Methods (200-level) or Regions (the Americas, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland) for English majors and minors

Meets: Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Instructor: Eva Roos

Course Description

To the well-practiced student of the landscape, tangible and visible patterns emerge which illuminate stories of a place and how it came to be. Landscape literacy helps us understand which beings live in different habitats, how beings and environmental conditions relate to each other, and even tell us about our place in time. In ‘Learning from the Landscape’, we will visit ecosystems unique to the Great Lakes region and become familiar with the iconic native plants which call these places home. We will contextualize these interpretations of our physical environments with our worldviews and consider how these lessons relate to our own communities.

More than an ecology class, this course provides a philosophical study of “place”. We will train our eyes to intentionally see the details of the landscape through drawing. We will locate ourselves within our own communities and environments. We will develop a vocabulary to articulate sensory experiences and observations of diverse ecosystems. We will share meals and partner with the Biological Station’s Indigenous neighbors, the Cheboiganing Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. We will care for the Band’s healing garden, learning how plants can form reciprocity-based communities. We will attune our ears to the calls of birds and use sound as another tool for mapping. We will practice respectful interactions with human and non-human communities, turning to the extensive history, knowledge, cosmologies, and culture embedded in the landscape. And continuously, we will contemplate our own identities as another living element of each place we study.

Our texts will include - and then expand beyond - Great Lakes authors of the past and present.

Morning class will focus on reading, writing, and class discussion, while afternoons will be out in the field, turning to the landscape as our text. This interdisciplinary course will embrace journaling and writing as the constant thread to tie together a library of experiential field-based learning.