Fall Semester 2010

English 223 Sections ER1, BV1, and WV1

Themes of Literature

Environmental Literature


Professor Susanne Bentley

Office Hours:          

Office: Room: MH221

Phone: 775-7538

E-mail: Use Web Campus e-mail for correspondence about this course.


Office e-mail: susanneb@gwmail.gbcnv.edu


Course Overview:

Themes of Literature will focus on literature of the environment with three aims: first to broaden and deepen your understanding and appreciation of literature, second to foster an awareness of the complexity of the interrelationships of environmental issues, and third, to build upon your critical thinking skills to help you form your own ideas about complex issues. This course will investigate and analyze humans’ relationship to nature through diverse works of fiction, poetry, essays, documentaries, and other media.


Course Objectives: 

“… in Wildness is the preservation of the World.” This quote by Henry David Thoreau can provide a framework for our class--a reason for us to question and study. Through literature, we will gain a better understanding of the meanings of “wildness” in our pluralistic society; cultivate intellect, sensibility, and sensitivity to environmental issues; and examine diverse thinking as illustrated in the literature we will read.


Required Texts:


Literature and the Environment:  Loraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, John P. O’Grady, eds.

Two additional full-length books that you will choose from a list found at the end of the syllabus.


You should also have access to and use a good handbook for MLA documentation of sources, such as SF Writer or The Everyday Writer.


You will also need a Web Campus login and a portable storage device.


Prerequisite:  ENG 102


Method of Instruction:  This class will take place in a variety of ways including in-class lecture, discussions, instructor feedback, student question/answer, written responses to readings or multimedia presentations, and written literary analysis.




Course Policies and Expectations


Participation/Attendance:  English 223 is a discussion-based class.  You must read all the assigned readings and be prepared to discuss them when you come to class. Your contribution to this class is crucial to your success.  Much of our learning will happen through group discussions and your journal responses. When you miss the discussion, you will not benefit or learn from this class; therefore, participation in weekly discussions of each literary piece is mandatory. 

Assignment due dates:  The GBC English Department enforces a “no late papers” policy.  If you submit a late assignment, it will not be accepted. Please plan ahead for computer problems or server disruptions.

WebCampus : Your assignments will be due through the WebCampus platform. You received a WebCampus username and password in the mail before class started; this will give you access to the course. Your assignments are outlined in detail on Web Campus. Go to the homepage and click on the appropriate learning module for assignments. Get in the habit of checking the Website at least two days per week.

Weekends/Holidays:  Usually, I will not be checking the website on weekends or holidays, so please plan accordingly.

Due Dates: Each assignment has a due date. If you experience an emergency and miss the due date, you may submit your assignment within 24 hours of the due date for a twenty percent reduction in credit. The assignment will be marked as “late.” No more than two late assignments will be accepted during the semester. After the 24 hour period, you cannot submit your assignment. No assignments will be accepted through e-mail.

Assignment Submission Guidelines:  All work must be typed and be formatted according to 2009 MLA guidelines. Your work must be saved as a Microsoft Word document. This means the file extension will say either “.doc” or .docx.”  If you do not have Microsoft Word, you need to save your document as a Rich Text Format document  (rtf) in order for me to read it. It is your responsibility to understand this process. Microsoft Works is not the same as Microsoft Word.  If I can’t open your document, you will not receive a grade for the assignment. Ask the Help Desk for assistance if you do not understand how to save your work in the correct format.

Submitting Assignments: All assignments must be turned in to the Assignment Drop Box on WebCampus.  You have until 11:55 p.m. on the due date to submit the assignment. Plan on turning in your assignments at least one day before they are due to avoid unforeseen circumstances, such as your browser not working or power outages.

After 11:55 p.m., the Assignment Drop Box will allow you to submit a late submission within 24 hours of the due date. This assignment will be marked “LATE.”  Twenty percent of the grade is reduced for a late assignment. No more than two late assignments will be accepted during the semester. Only assignments submitted through the correct assignment drop box will be accepted. Do not send any assignments to me through e-mail.

Format for Papers: All essays must be submitted in proper 2009 MLA format. If you have not taken a college composition course in the past year, MLA style has made some changes. You need to use the current MLA format. Read the chapters in your texts on MLA Documentation carefully to see how to do this, and see The Everyday Writer  for an example of a correctly formatted paper. Use 12 pt. standard font, such as Times Roman, Tahoma, or Ariel on all assignments. Read the link on the homepage under “Lecture Notes” on “Format for English Papers” for more information.

It is expected that you have learned proper grammar, sentence structure, syntax, and punctuation in English 101 and 102. Use The Everyday Writer to check these before you submit an assignment. Present work that is neat, carefully proofread, and correctly formatted.  Practice proper paragraph structure - indention, a topic sentence that presents the paragraph’s main idea, sentences in the paragraph body that develop the topic sentence with concrete details, data, facts, and examples, and a concluding sentence.

Point of View: In academic writing, use the third-person point of view (he, she, it, or they). If you are writing about a personal experience, it is permissible to use first-person point of view (I), but use this sparingly and only when it adds to your paper. Do not use second-person point of view (you) in academic writing. Also, avoid using contractions in academic papers.

Professionalism in Writing: This course is a professional setting, and every message you send in such a setting needs to be clear, concise, and checked for spelling and grammar. An infrequent mistake is understandable, but if your email messages and postings are continually difficult to read, this will affect your final grade. Your writing reflects the quality of your thinking. Every message you send has the potential to elicit a reaction from your reader. Give careful consideration to how you want your readers to perceive you. When readers in a professional setting see documents with improper syntax, poor grammar, and misspellings, this affects how seriously readers will take the writer.

Do not assume that because email and discussion postings can be written quickly that they can be sloppy. Use correct grammar, capitalization, and punctuation for all of your e-mail correspondence. Use the HTML editor on all of your email messages and check them for spelling using the “ABC” icon before you send your message.

NOTE:  Failure to follow these format guidelines may result in your paper being returned without an evaluation.

To Check Your Grades: Go to “Assignments” and click on “Graded.” You will see your grade for each assignment that has been graded. On some assignments, I will give you feedback directly on your paper. To see my comments, click on the attachment entitled “your name graded.doc.” Essays and major assignments also have a grading form, which you will be able to access through the graded assignments tab.

Your Commitment: As a student in this class, you should be prepared to spend at least nine hours a week reading and preparing assignments.  It is essential that you commit yourself to this degree of involvement to be successful in this course.  The class transfers to major universities, such as the University of Nevada and University of California, so you should be prepared for a workload and a level of intellectual engagement comparable to these systems.  The specific assignments and requirements for the class are explained in detail in the Assignment Drop box.


Writer's Journal:  You are required to keep a writer's journal with dated and numbered entries.  Your journal will contain responses to the readings (not summaries of the readings) that you can do in a number of ways, which we will discuss as class progresses. These entries will help you clarify what you read, record your questions for discussion, and possibly become the genesis for your longer papers. You should write an average of two entries per week. You will also write entries on each the full-length books you read. You should plan on using your journal responses to prepare for the weekly discussions.


Writing projects:  This class requires a big commitment from you. You must be prepared to read and write for at least nine hours per week. Expect to read each of the works more than once. There is no other way you can read critically and prepare quality work. You will write three essays that will help you understand your reading style and demonstrate your ability to express an interpretation of literary themes.  Requirements for these papers will be discussed at length with each assignment.


Tutoring: I recommend that you visit the Academic Success Center and meet with a tutor to go over your essays before you submit them. In Elko, call 753-2149 to make an appointment. If you are at a branch campus, contact your local campus manager to find out about tutoring. GBC also has online tutoring, which you can access from the Academic Success Center Webpage.


You must complete every journal response, thought paper, and essay in order to pass this course.


Late assignments will not be accepted. There is a due date for each assignment. Once this date is past, you cannot turn an assignment in to the Drop box.



Student Responsibility for Dropping Courses: If you are missing assignments, it is your responsibility to drop the course at the Admissions and Records Office. The last day to drop a course falls during the twelfth week of the semester, and the date is always printed in the schedule. Students who have incomplete or late assignments who do not drop the course will receive a failing grade.


Student Conduct Policy: Students are expected to follow the Student Conduct Policy for students in the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) outlined in the Great Basin College Catalog. Students will specifically be held accountable for behaving in a civil and respectful manner toward other students and the professor in their classroom and online communications such as e-mail messages, discussion postings, and written assignments.

The college catalog states, “Messages, attitudes, or any other form of communication deemed to be outside the bounds of common decency/civility as judged by common standards of classroom behavior (determined, as they would be in a regular classroom, by the instructor) will not be tolerated” (29).

Pay particular attention to those last four words. Any student who behaves rudely to another student or to me will be dropped immediately. During the first week of class, students will be required to sign an acknowledgement that they have read the Academic Integrity Policy and Student Conduct Policy and understand that they will be dropped from the class for violating it.

Confidentiality:  The English Department respects the policy that your grades are your and your instructor’s business only.  However, during the semester, student writing will be shared with peers and/or Writing Center tutors for revision purposes and may be publicly displayed.  This is an integral part of the college writing program.  If you have comments concerning this policy, please make them known to me during the first week of the course. 



Academic dishonesty is defined as an act of deception in which a student claims credit for the work or effort of another person or uses unauthorized materials or fabricated information in any academic work. Academic dishonesty is a violation of the GBC Student Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated in this class. Any evidence of academic dishonesty/plagiarism in this course will result in a failing grade on the assignment and/or a failing grade for the course. You should be aware that at other schools you will risk failing courses and potential suspension/expulsion for academic dishonesty, which is considered a very serious offense. If you are ever uncertain about your use of another person's work, ask a tutor or me for help.

Acts of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to, the following:

CHEATING--unauthorized copying or collaborating on a test or assignment, or the use or attempted use of unauthorized materials;

TAMPERING--altering or interfering with evaluation instruments and documents;

FABRICATION--falsifying experimental data or results, inventing research or laboratory data or results for work not done, or falsely claiming sources not used;

PLAGIARISM--representing someone else's words, ideas, artistry, or data as one's own, including copying another person's work (including published and unpublished material, and material from the Internet) without appropriate referencing, presenting someone else's opinions and theories as one's own, or working jointly on a project, then submitting it as one's own;

ASSISTING--assisting another student in an act of academic dishonesty, such as taking a test or doing an assignment for someone else, changing someone's grades or academic records, or inappropriately distributing exams to other students.

It may be tempting to use others' ideas and words from the vast resources on the available on-line. Do not give in to this temptation unless you are willing to cite your sources completely. Remember, if you found something on the Internet, chances are I can find it too.

Safe Assign:  Your major assignments may be  filtered through a plagiarism prevention Website called Safe Assign, or I may ask you to submit your paper to this Website. If any portion of a paper is found to be plagiarized, it will result in failure of the course. 


Grading Policy: Your effort and the quality of work you turn will determine your grade. The final grade for the course is based on completion of all assignments. If you do not complete all writing requirements, you will not pass the class! No exceptions. No late work will be accepted.


Your final grade is based on the following:

Assignment                                Point value

Writing Journal (20 minimum)      10 points each, 200 points total

Weekly Discussions                     10 points each, 100 points total

Paper proposals (2)                     15 points each, 30 points total

Essays (3)                                

Reading Biography                       50 points

Literary Analysis Paper                 100 points

Literature and Culture

Paper                                        200 points

Thought Papers                          50 points each, 100 points total

Working Bibliography                  25 points

Pluses and minuses may be figured into the final grade.

In order to receive full credit, an assignment must:

1.   be turned in on time and follow proper 2009 MLA format

2.   be complete and well thought out

3.   reflect academic, college-level work/writing

4.   incorporate critical thinking

5.   be typed, double-spaced, with standard 12-point font (such as Palatino or Times Roman) and 1-in margins




Learner Outcome



Communication Skills

Written communication









Accessing information

 Formal Essays evaluated by rubric

Evaluation of communication with instructor and other students in discussions


An oral communication component will be evaluated through class discussions and a presentation of the final project



Evaluation of the depth and breadth of outside research


Reading Skills

Evaluation of essay assignments and responses to texts.

Critical Thinking

Students will use a variety of techniques for literary analysis.


Evaluated through essays, journal entries, and weekly assignments

Personal and cultural awareness


Evaluated through journal assignments, essay assignments, and participation in class discussions

Personal Wellness

    Students will explore choices

     and ethics discussed in texts

Evaluation of student writings and class discussions

Technological Understanding

Students will use Web Campus and conduct Internet research.





Supplemental Book List


Choose one book from this list for supplemental book 1. You should have the book finished by October 9th.



·         Bass, Rick. Why I Came West, 2008 or Ninemile Wolves, 2002.


·         Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, 1854


·         Ehrlich, Gretel. The Solace of Open Spaces, 1985


·         Lopez, Barry. Crossing Open Ground, 1988 or Arctic Dreams.


·         Muir, John. My First Summer in the Sierra. 1911.


·         Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac, 1949.


·         Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire. 1968.



 Choose one additional book from the list above or from the following list for supplemental book 2. You should have this book finished by November 20th.


·         McKibben, William. Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, 2008 or The End of Nature. 1989.


·         Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring.


·         Suzuki, David. The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature.


·         Tempest Williams, Terry. Red. 2005



English 223

Themes of Literature

Literature and the Environment

Fall, 2010 Calendar for First Three Weeks of Class


All readings are from Literature and the Environment, unless marked otherwise. Each section of the book has an introduction, which you will read. Each chapter also has an introduction. The chapter introductions are a short sentence or two that appear in italics at the top of the first page of the chapter selection. Please read these introductions as thought starters for the chapters.

For example, the chapter introduction for Chapter 1, “What is wild and instinctual in our nature, and how do we respond to it? How does this response influence our relations with the outer world?” appears on p. 3.

Choose at least two texts to respond to in your journal each week.

Week 1

8/30:   Course introduction. Take home reading:

·         “Sacred and Ancestral Ground” and “A Blessing”

·         Write a journal response (J1) which is due before class on Wednesday.



·         Read: “To the Student” pp. xxi – xxii, section introduction for Part I, “The Human Animal,” p. 1. Oliver, p. 3, Dillard p. 4, Snyder p.14, Appendix, p. 504-509.: 

·         Due: Syllabus Quiz

·         Due: Two journal responses (J1) due before class and (J2)


Week 2

9/6:   Williams p. 27, London p. 31

·         Due: (J3)


9/8:    Thoreau p. 47, Chapter intro p. 63, Levertov p. 63, Wright p. 64. Appendix, p. 509-515.

·         Due: (J4)

·         Book one assignment- let me know which book you have chosen to read

Week 3

9/13:   Stafford p. 79, Silko p. 109, chapter intro p. 115, Wintu tribe p. 117

·         Work on Reading Biography

·         Begin reading your supplemental book

·         (J5)

9/15:   Nelson p. 119, Shepard p. 141, Appendix p. 515-518.

·         Due: Complete a journal response for the first few chapters in your supplemental book.       (J6)

·         Reading Biography due

·         The remaining weeks’ assignments will be posted soon