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Changing it up...

I'm writing now to invite Jody to join me here in planning for our new course on "changing stories."

* Here are some things to think about/respond to:

Maybe check out first the syllabus from my Eco-Imaginings ESEM? I won't want to re-use much of the content,
but there were some things I tried out two years ago that we might want to re-cycle, re-use, re-vise....

I'm wondering especially about on-campus, out-of-doors experiences.
And also about off-campus ones, esp. since Play in the City got hit, more recently,
for offering "extra" activities that were not available to all ESem participants....

* I'm remembering an idea you picked up @ ASLE last summer, about having students trace where their supplies come from and/or where their waste goes to? I"d like to build something concrete like that into our syllabus from the get-go; look @ Chapter 4 in Take Back the Economy: "Take Back the Market: Encountering Others," for descriptions of both the "Where From? Inventory" and the "Distant Others Dandelion," both of which I think have great possibilities....

* I read Earth: The Operator's Manual (no) and both of Elizabeth Kolbert's books; would recommend the second one....

* I'll also keep updating my reading notes ...

trying to "thread" this--interspersing my comments w/ some visuals,
that track the "ecological" dimensions of my day--
from insistently local
(raspberries picked a mile from here, turned into a pie in my kitchen)
through less local (flowers seeded 5 miles from here, planted around my lamppost),
to tequila sunrises on the porch, made from liquor made far away, evoking a Caribbean beach...

I. Okay so I started (again) by looking for keynotes,
in order to “back design” the course:

1) pleasure in natural world?
what I did w/ eco-imaginings—making them spent an hour outside each weekend, holding as many classes as possible outside, starting w/
the first day by sending them outside, welcoming them back in w/ Wendell Berry’s poem, The Silence; next days, we read Thoreau’s and Solnit’s walks, then I sent them on one, to write about…

2) teaching careful habits of reducing and recycling --
data gathering about their use of natural/non-renewable resources
start with the “where from?” inventory, distant others dandelion, shoppers’ and ethical shoppers’ checklists from Take Back the Economy

3) give the larger history (Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction will do this)

4) make them feel like/actually be agents
(like the prison workshop: “teach racism and the civil rights movementàlook @ “Teaching for Turbulence” for ideas here?)

II. Then I thought about strands:

1) place-based: how much should we locate this @ Bryn Mawr?
(some stuff from eco-imaginings: weekly site-visit-reports;
visit from Weccha Crawford about the geology; tree map (and “elitism”!)
vs.  also how much focus on wilderness? The exotic/far-way/urban?

2) ind’l-based: how much should we focus on their ind’l decision-making (buying and disposing habits? and/or those of the college as a whole)

3) crisis-based: how much on the current issues like global warming?
and how international in focus? (along these lines:
Jeff thought of a title in the night--Global Warming: This is Your Life!
--and suggests we forget all books and articles, just read the latest reports, such as )

4) historical: Kolbert will be good here, for the large view…

III. then I tried to think about how to organize a syllabus--

Teaching for Turbulence gives a curricular outline
1) stay true to founding passions/intent of Env’l Studies
2) think critically, imaginatively about human nature
and the nature of crisis--
3) focus on overlapping/competing theories
of political and cultural change:
thinking strategically about managing politics of anger/anxiety,
draw on campus resources re: conflict management and resolution....

IV. and then I started reading some wonderful stuff:
“Ravens @ Play” led me to Haraway and another piece B sent me about play making people flexible,
responsive to problem solving…and a draft syllabus emerged! See what you think…(there are
detailed reading notes on the other page...)

TA DAH! [though still no title....]

Week 1:
Day 1: drawing on Haraway to frame it all:
describe the web of interconnection that is “the ecological thought”;
make lists of our kin and kinds (and enemies?!)
alternatively: /exchange/eco-literacy-2014/notes-towards-day-1

Day 2: Mary Louise Pratt, “Contact Zones”
Sun night: 3-pp web-paper (?) about such an “encounter,”
analyzing it using (or resisting!) Pratt’s terminology

Week 2: contacting microbes
The Human Microbiome project
Your Own Personal Ecosystem
Stacy Alaimo: Porous Bodies and Trans-Corporeality
Essay #2 reflecting on your own personal ecosystem

Week 3: contacting plants
Ursula LeGuin, Vaster than Empires, and More Slow
Bryn Mawr College Tree Tour
Essay #3: in pairs, create a new, more playful, less elitist one?!

Week 4: contacting animals
"Ravens at Play" [with gloss by Haraway]
Paula Gunn Allen, Kochinnenako in Academe: Three Approaches to Interpreting a Keres Indian Tale
Essay #4: in groups of three, write overlapping/
intersecting accounts of a shared experience

Week 5: contacting play

Stuart Brown, "Play, Spirit, and Character"
Robin Henig, Taking Play SeriouslyNew York Times (Feb. 17, 2008)
Tim Edensor, “Playing in Industrial Ruins”
Essay #5: reflecting on your experiences of play, and its relation to…?

Week 6: contacting our younger selves
Essay #6: children’s literature project


Week 7: contacting our evolving selves
Exile and Pride
Essay #7: encountering Eli Clare

Week 8: contacting rocks
[this is out of place? though maybe Andrea’s poem bridges it…?]
Andrea Friedman, Meta/phor and Sentiment Core
Weecha Crawford, Exploring the Campus Geologically
Essay #8: mid-sem evals

Week 9: contacting other people
Usula LeGuin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Ormelas
[with gloss by Povinelli]
Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild”
Essay #9: revising #1 on “the contact zone,” as a scifi story

Week 10: contacting loss
Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction
Essay #10: contacting Kolbert

Week 11: contacting desire
Eva Tuck, "Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities"
Freyda Matthews,On Desiring Nature
Essay #11 on what you desire….

Weeks 12-13: contacting action
a novel about play as political action?
Ozeki’s All Over Creation or
Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange?

Week 14: contacting the finish line!

also something in there somewhere (weeks 1 or 4 maybe?) on eco-linguistics
—alternative structure of sentences/verbs over nouns/history of keywords??
David Bohm, "The rheomode --an experiment with language and thought." Wholeness and the Implicate Order.
The Ecolinguistics Reader: Language, Ecology, and Environment. (Goatley and Schleppegrell, pp. 203-231)
Raymond Williams, "Chapter 13: Key Words/Key Concepts." Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (in our password protected file).



jccohen's picture

like framing w/haraway andbut need to clarify how all this interconnectedness and porosity is political/justice work, and not only is but reads/teaches that way...  so early pratt is helpful but week 2 i'd like to see an upfront identity piece along w/microbiomes and porosity...but i haven't taught that stuff so let's talk about how it teaches (know you have)...

because contacting plants can feel pretty far away for id-oriented maybe it's there we need to do/keeping tying in id stuff?  or maybe i want self-desire-others to come earlier?

ok just some initial reactions, talk soon.


Anne Dalke's picture

Titles: This is your life! Some like it hot! We’re all in this together!
“Human nature is an interspecies relationship!”
What if we imagined a human nature that shifted historically
together with varied webs of interspecies dependence?”

Cfed w/ Nate—“Problems in the Natural and Built Environment,"
I want verbs—like Desire/Play/Justify/Restore/Transform/Relate/Interact/Improvise/
Reciprocate/Connect/Contact…or descriptors—muddy, weedy, unruly…

here’s another catalogue (from my new hero, Haraway:
“multiplicity, oscillation, mediation, material heterogeneity, performativity, interference…
there is no resting place in a multiple and partially connected world”

jccohen's picture

i had some of those same words, here's my list:  play desire damanage wildscapes encountering invoking...

encountering the 'other': ??