Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Essay 8 Thoughts

R_Massey's picture

Over the course of these past few months, we have learned about many different ways in which identity and environment interact. Beginning with the story of June Jordan, “Report from the Bahamas,” and the writings of Mary Louise Pratt’s “Arts of the Contact Zone,” we began to investigate ourselves in relation to others. Moving onto reading of Minnie Bruce Pratt, we got a chance to see how one’s identity affected the environment and how it perceived them. In Eli Clare’s “Exile and Pride,” we learned how of one can be shaped by their identity and found in escaping it. In our study of play we learned about how our environment as a child, freed or constricted, can have a large impact on the way that we come into adulthood. In Ruth Ozeki’s novel “All Over Creation,” we delved into the way vast intricacies can play out in our lives and the role that our social environment plays on our character.  We looked into the environment of our beloved Bryn Mawr and pondered our interaction with the rocks, the students and the history. All in all, we have looked at identity and environment from many different angles.

Now we have moved onto Elizabeth Kolbert’s, “The Sixth Extinction.” In this novel, and through the collective summaries, we have looked into the manner of this identity and connection to environment. In this non-fiction masterpiece, Kolbert develops an overwhelming collection of mass loss. She creates a picture of sorrow and then throws it in the readers face. Though not without mention in other parts of the book, most surely in chapter 11, Kolbert turns the mirror of blame on the reader. Her book is provocative in the way that it builds upon the sympathies of the reader while calling the reader to action in the same. I feel as though our class has been building up to this book because it forces us to question our identity in terms of the environment and in affect with the environment.

In order to examine Elizabeth Kolbert’s work in relation to our past readings and academic endeavors, I have decided to create a list of different connections that could be built upon and discuss their further implication in conference.

Possible ideas for related writing:

  1. Relating Eli Clare’s connection to his environment (highlighting the comments of deforestation) to Elizabeth Kolbert’s story of the rain forest being diminished and variety of animals being greatly decreased


  1. Explore how we have not only created ruins but now make a point to play in them. Contrast the idea of utilizing dead space with Kolbert’s look into humans’ intrusion of live space.



  1. Analyze the over-arching use of GMO products, as mentioned in “All Over Creation,” and think about the consequence of possibly outgrowing natural vegetables and exterminating organic food products all together.


  1. Compare how Bryn Mawr’s environment has changed from being viewed as a school for a specific type of woman to accepting woman of various backgrounds. Critique the ability of our generation, and generations to come, to enact a similarly drastic change to save the environment and possible ourselves.


I am very much open to any modifications of the ideas that I have presented and welcome any advocacy against any of my possible topics of choice.