From "Horrid Wilderness" to "Mother Earth":
Nature and Religion in American Society
Office: 404 Miller; Tel.: x7481
Lewis and Clark College
Office Hours: T, Th. 3:30-5:00, or by appt.
DRAWING from primary sources, works of literature and poetry, in conjunction with works of recent scholarship in the fields of history, religious studies and anthropology, this course will explore the intersection of religious beliefs and attitudes towards nature throughout American history, from the seventeenth century to the 1990s. The aim of this course is not to be exhaustive in its coverage of the subject, but rather to hone in more closely on a few central issues.
The first section focuses on European-American interactions with and interpretations of the American environment with reference to inherited religious beliefs and practices. Here we will also consider the ways in which American religion was uniquely shaped by the American environment. The second section of the course explores in a range of genres the relationship of several Native American groups to their environment. In this section we also begin to consider the ways in which that relationship has been alternately vilified and romanticized by white observers. In the final section of the course we will examine several late 20th-century movements from Buddhist-inspired Beat writers, to radical environmentalism, to neo-paganism and New Age religions.
Catherine Albanese, Nature Religion in AmericaThe library owns most of these books and I have put them on reserve (some are on order and will go on reserve as soon as they come in). Any readings that are not from this list of books can be found on reserve as well. The reading load for this course is substantial. One skill we will work on is tailoring reading habits to the sources not all books should be read in the same way.
Ella Deloria, Waterlily
Martha Lee, Earth First! Environmental Apocalypse
Calvin, Martin, Keepers of the Game
Richard K. Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven
Mary Rowlandson, The Captivity of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
Gary Snyder, Mountains and Rivers Without End
Mark Stoll, Protestantism, Capitalism and Nature in America
Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge
Expectations and Assignments: The success of a seminar depends on the participation of all members and thus it is of utmost importance that all come to class prepared to discuss the days reading. The assignments for this class are designed to work on developing a wide range of analytical and rhetorical skills. All members will be expected to lead class discussions once or twice during the semester. The written assignments include close reading and analysis of primary texts, a book review, a 4-6 page work of cultural criticism, and a mini research paper (8-10 pp) or a comparative essay of similar length.
An Experiment: I have assigned no due dates for these papers. All of them could conceivably be written on any number of issues that we encounter throughout the course. So, I am asking you to submit to me by the second week of class a schedule of due dates and subject matter for each of these papers. These due dates are not subject to change, so choose carefully!
Class Participation: 20%
Primary Source: 10% (Morton, Winthrop, Rowlandson, Edwards, Emerson, McGaa)
Book Review: 10% (Stoll, Albanese, Martin, Deloria, Nelson, Snyder, Lee, Williams)
4-6 pp essay: 15% (just about anything could work)
8-10 pp essay: 20% (ditto)
Take Home Final: 25%
SECTION I : EURO-AMERICANS IN THE NEW WORLD
Week 1: Asking the Questions
Jan 12: Course Introduction
Jan 14: Nature Religions or Religion against Nature?
Stoll, Intro and Book One (pp. 1-52) Albanese, Introduction
Week 2: First European Views
Jan 19: The Merry Anglican and the Puritan
Thomas Morton, The New English Canaan. John Winthrop, "Reasons to Be Considered for Justifying the Undertakers of the Intended Plantation in New England."
Jan 21: The Wilderness Trials of the Puritans
Stoll, Chapter 3 Albanese, Chapter 1. Individual syllabi due in class. N.B. you many want to do the primary source analysis paper before this date.
Week 3: The Seventeenth Century
Jan 26: Meeting of European and Indian
Rowlandson, The Captivity, entire
Jan 28: The Revelation of Nature
Jonathan Edwards, Images or Shadows of Divine Things, selections. Stoll, Chapter 4
Week 4 : The Eighteenth Century
Feb 2: Quaker Naturalists in the Age of Enlightenment
Slaughter, The Natures of John and William Bartram, Introduction, "Snakes," and "Travels" Albanese, Chapter 2
Feb 4: The Romantics
Emerson, selections. Miller, "From Edwards to Emerson."
Week 5: The Nineteenth Century
Feb 9: The Trancendental Legacy
Albanese, Chapter 3
Feb 11: Manifest Destiny
Lyman Beecher, A Plea for the West. Stoll, Chapters 5 and 6
SECTION II: NATIVE VISIONS
Week 6: The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
Feb 16: War on the Beavers?
Martin, Keepers of the Game,
Feb 18: Changing Relations to the Land
Martin, Keepers of the Game, contd. Dowd, A Spirited Resistance, Intro and Chapter 1.
Week 7: The Ninetheenth Century
Feb 23: The Plains Life
Feb 25: Deloria, contd.
Week 8: The Twentieth Century
Mar 2: Views of the Northern Forest
Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven, chapters 1-7.
Mar 4: Nelson, Chapter 8-end.
Week 9: Rethinking Native American Studies
Mar 9: Native Americans and Environmental Justice
Weaver, Defending Mother Earth, Introduction, Chapter 10 and Afterword.
SECTION III: NATURE AND RELIGION TODAY
Mar 11 Toward the Twentieth Century
Stoll, Chapters 7 and 8
Week 10: The Beat Generation and the
turn to Zen
Mar 16: Counterculture and the Turn to Zen
Snyder, "Blue Mountains Constantly Walking" in The Practice of the Wild,. Snyder, Mountains and Rivers without End, parts I and II.
Mar 18: Max Oelschlaeger, The Idea of Wilderness, pp. 243-245, 261-280; Snyder, Mountains and Rivers Without End, parts III and IV.
Week 11: Back to Nature
Mar 30: Back to the Earth
Rebecca Gould, "Getting (Not Too) Close to Nature: Modern Homesteading asLived Religion in America," in David Hall, ed. Lived Religion in America.
Apr 1: Going Native Ed McGaa, "The Joy of Mother Earth Spirituality," by Ron Miller, pp. 139-144, "Beginning a Rainbow Clan," pp. 227-233; and "Fools Crows Call," pp. 243-255. Andy Smith, "For All Those Who Were Indian in a Former Life;" Philip Deloria, Playing Indian, Chapter 6.
Week 12: On the Fringe
Apr 6: Neo-paganism and Eco-Feminism
Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon, selections.
Apr 8: Radical Environmentalism
Lee, Earth First! Environmental Apocalypse.
Week 13: Nature Writing in the
Apr 13: Contemporary Nature Writers
Apr 15: Williams, Refuge
Week 14: Towards the 21st Century
Apr 20: Summing it all up
Albanese, Chapter 5
April 29, 5:00PM Take Home Final due