Slavic R5B, Section 3: Reading and Composition: Man and Nature

TT 3:30-5, 283 Dwinelle. Instructor: Lily Scott.

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

This course will explore the relationship between humans, animals and the natural world in Russian and American literature. Although the relationship between man and nature as it is defined in any given society often translates to serious material consequences, the dynamic of the relationship between human and nonhuman worlds is always culturally constructed and constantly shifting. In this course, we will treat the natural world as a critical category akin to race, class or gender and consider how our selected texts depict the relationship between humans and the physical environment.   Topics for reading and discussion may include: literary models of nature (such as garden or wilderness), feminization of the natural world (the woman/nature analogy), the body, landscape and national identity, nature and ideology, literature and environmental consciousness.   We will use the theme of man and nature as a jumping off point to consider greater narrative issues such as point of view, style, structure and genre. We will interrogate our texts to discover the narrative strategies employed by an author in order to put forth different ecological visions and ask how these strategies shape the structure of the work as a whole.

The goal of the course will be to develop skills in critical reading and college essay writing. Over the course of the semester students will be expected to complete all assigned reading (approximately 60-70 pages per week), compose four papers (paper 1 (5pp), paper 2 (5-7pp); paper 3 (a revision of paper 2); paper 4 (7-10pp)), and actively participate in class discussions.


Rick Bass, The Lives of Rocks. Mariner Books, Reprint edition (2007). [ISBN-10: 061891966X; ISBN-13: 978-0618919666]

Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West. Vintage International Edition (1992). [ISBN-10: 0679728759; ISBN-13: 978-0679728757]

Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit. Translated by Robert Chandler. New York Review Books Classics (2009). [ISBN-10: 1590173058; ISBN-13: 978-1590173053]

Leo Tolstoy. Hadji Murat. Translated by Hugh Aplin. Hesperus Classics (2003). [ISBN-10: 1843910330; ISBN-13: 978-1843910336]


Prerequisite: Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent. Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.