ENGL 4231: Literature and the Environment

Students explore a variety of literary texts, such as poems, plays, short stories, novels, and creative non-fiction, to understand how changing literary representations of the natural environment have affected cultural attitudes towards, and human relationships with, the natural environment. The texts studied emphasize that, as much as humans impact their physical environment, the physical environment also has indelible effects on human beings.


After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Articulate a deeper understanding of topics, issues, and themes as expressed in environmental literature (in various forms).
  • Express your knowledge and understanding of the creative links between a variety of literary genres and art forms related to environmental literature.
  • Demonstrate advanced collaborative skills and comprehension of social learning as it relates to environmental literature.
  • Write about environmental literature at an advanced level of proficiency.

Course outline

ENGL 4231: Literature and the Environment includes the following units:

  1. An Introduction to Literature about the Environment
  2. Indigenous Worldviews and Perspectives on Environment
  3. Old-World Romanticism in Contrast with Indigenous Ways of Knowing the Land
  4. Fiction versus Non-Fiction in Environmental Writing
  5. Ecofeminism
  6. Anthropomorphism and the Human-Animal Connection
  7. The Future of Ecocriticism and Environmental Writing

Required text and materials

The following textbook is required for this course:

Clark, T. (2011). The Cambridge introduction to literature and the environment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Type: Textbook ISBN 978-0-521-72090-8

You will also be required to purchase six supplementary items. These items can be found online or at your local new/used bookstore. They are:

  • Grizzly Man, by Werner Herzog
  • The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline
  • The Pemmican Eaters, by Marilyn Dumont
  • Now You Care, by Di Brandt
  • She Had Some Horses, by Joy Harjo
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer


Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

To complete this course successfully, you must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory Final Exam. The following table shows how your final grade will be determined for this course.

Assignment 1: Location Usage Case Study 20%
Assignment 2: Recounting Environmental Issues in Multiple Forms 15%
Assignment 3: An Ecofeminist Textual Analysis 15%
Assignment 4: Connecting Film to Theory 15%
Final Exam * 35%
Total 100%


Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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