Reading Guides, Unit #1

Use the following questions as needed to think through the readings. You do not need to come to class with written responses to them.

Think about the following after reading Andrew Marvell’s, “The Mower’s Song,”

  • What’s happening in this poem?
  • What does the repetition of the final two lines in each stanza accomplish
  • How do the terms Nature, Wilderness, Ecology, and Environmentalism show up in this poem?
  • To what extent does the poem compliment your response to the terms? To what extent does the poem challenge your key word response?

Keep the following in mind as you read William Cronon’s, “The Trouble with Wilderness, or Getting back to the Wrong Nature.”

  1. How does Cronon define Nature, Wilderness, Ecology, and Environmentalism?
  2. Why does Cronon turn, as we will also turn in this course, toward literature to think through these issues?
  3. With which components of Cronon’s assessment do you agree? Why? With which do you disagree? Also, why?

Keep the following in mind as you read Chapter. 1, “Economy” in Thoreau’s Walden:

  1. Why does he go into the woods and why does he leave? Is he really “in the woods” enough to experience what he claims?
  2. Is Thoreau a fiction writer or a scientist? Could readers use his book to repeat his experiment in the woods and yield the same results? What genre is this book?
  3. What do you make of Thoreau’s relationship to authority? What does he think he owes to previous generations? What does he think he owes to other writers?
  4. What do you make of the following metaphors around which he organizes the text: domesticity, economics, and wilderness?

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