Natural Science and Literature
This class will explore the practice – and art – of nonfiction writing about science and nature. Students will begin with an examination of influential historical works and move into contemporary writing on science and nature. The class will be a sort of journey, from ruminative essays on the individual in nature to impassioned (and science-heavy) explorations of ecosystem destruction to exuberant studies of love and sex in the animal kingdom. Students will seek to understand the narrative and linguistic machinery that make these pieces of writing “tick” through discussions, short writing exercises, brief reviews, and workshop participation. This course will also address the development of students' own writing. Specifically, students will seek understanding of the writing techniques that can be used to make the complex fields of science and nature accessible subjects of writing intended for mainstream or literary publications. The key challenge will be to find a topic, a format (memoir, essay, narrative journalism), a structure, and a voice suitable for creating a single, sustained piece of writing that each student will devise, draft, workshop, and polish throughout the course.