FSEM 100A3 | Writing for a Wounded Planet: Literature and Environment in the US and Latin America


This seminar seeks to familiarize students with the study of literature and environment—Ecocriticism, or ecological literary criticism—and the idea that the study of literature can lead to environmental, as well as cultural, awareness. We will examine literary and cultural texts that represent three distinct traditions: US Nature Writing from the nineteenth century (the classics such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Susan Fenimore Cooper), Latin American Literature in translation, and recent US Latina/o literature. Although these three traditions represent differing views on nature, culture, and modernization, they all dialogue with the place of the human in nature. Some authors celebrate the wilderness experience and advocate for going “back to nature,” while others explicitly speak out against environmental justice issues affecting the health of residents in the inner city. Excursions (hiking and paddling, and whatever else the group is up for!) will provide us with opportunities to connect with the more-than-human world and to dialogue more directly with the ideas of some of the environmental thinkers who wrote about their experiences of interconnectedness with nature. I love getting out as a class and sharing my love of outdoor recreation. As sustainability has become a strong focus of UMW, students will be encouraged to find ways to get involved with projects on campus to make our institution even more sustainable.

Photo of Jeremy Larochelle, Professor of Spanish

Jeremy Larochelle, Professor of Spanish

I’m a Professor of Spanish beginning my 15th year here at UMW where I teach all levels of Spanish language and literature. My research focus is on environmental issues in Latin American and US Latino/a literature. A few years back my research took me to the Peruvian Amazon where I met with poets whose work responds to environmental issues occurring there. I spent a few nights in a village without electricity along the Amazon River talking to people about their ideas about nature. This research led to the publication of an anthology of recent Amazonian Poetry entitled ¡Más aplausos para la lluvia!: Antología de poesía amazónica reciente (More applause for the rain!: Anthology of Recent Poetry from the Amazon). I’m the faculty sponsor for the UMW Outdoor Club and greatly enjoy spending time on excursions with students going hiking and paddling. I firmly believe that learning happens inside and outside of the classroom. I’m also a member of the President’s Council on Sustainability and am active in projects that make our campus more sustainable. This is my sixth year working as a Faculty Fellow in the office of Academic Services where I advise and mentor students as they are deciding their majors and as they work their way back to good academic standing. I live locally with my wife Sarah and our eight-year-old daughter Hannah Wren, who already shares in our passion for outdoor activities. A year before her birth, Sarah and I paddled nearly the entire length of the tidal section of the Rappahannock River, from downtown Fredericksburg down to the Chesapeake Bay, getting to know the intricacies of the river as we camped out of our 22’ tandem sea kayak.