Reading & Composition
Plants, Flowers, Gardens
In addition to fulfilling R&C’s writing requirements, this course will focus on ideas about plants, flowers, and gardens spanning from the medieval period to the twenty-first century. We will closely scrutinize received preconceptions about plants and gardens, such as the negative perception of plants’ lack of mobility as a deficiency and the notion of the garden as an enclosed space with borders, and read a variety of texts that challenge and/or complicate such normative perceptions. Other relevant issues to be addressed include the notion of individuality in plants (i.e., how does grafting challenge our notions about autonomous, individual subjects?), the divide between nature and culture, cultivation, forms of knowing (experiential, theoretical) and recording (indigenous oral traditions, marked signs on leaves, tree rings, journaling), senses of time, border crossings, migration, and colonialism. In this way, we will study writings about plants and gardens to learn about human cultures as well.
This course is designed to help students develop critical thinking, writing, and oral expression skills that are applicable beyond the domain of literary studies. Students will learn how to develop interesting analytical arguments by refining their ideas through the drafting and revision of essays. Short writing assignments will also be required in order to help facilitate thinking about the course’s material. Since this is a discussion-based course, a strong emphasis will be placed on active student participation in class.
Authors on the syllabus may include Goethe, Rousseau, Ponge, Fromentin, Zamora, Posmentier, Buson, Bashō, Kimmerer, Hallé, Jarman, and Linnaeus.