Being that Thoreau lived in nature, he has influenced conservationists, writers, philosophers, activists and individuals of all professions. If he kept this experience all to himself, people would not be able to see the other way of living, which is a society that is more environmentally aware. Even though his work got little recognition while he was alive, many years later people realized how important the earth is for life. Today, people adapted to the immense amount of technology. We realized how conserving the environment can effect us positively and negatively.
In the 18th century, there was a dramatic shift away from viewing the world through the prism of faith and spirit and God toward understanding it through empirical data gathered and sifted and rationally analyzed. This movement, the Enlightenment, made it possible for humanity to understand the world far better—and to log and build on and conquer it, for a time.
Thoreau viewed nature as divine, and believed the soul was correlated with nature and god. Through his writings, he objected to the materialistic way of life. Thoreau observed the natural world in a scientific manner. It relates to romanticism because since technology was improving and people were adapting to them. Henry believed in living within our means and developing a spiritual relationship. Most thought of nature in a romantic sentimental way. Human beings were believed to be the superior specie to all others.
Although McKibben’s volume is devoted to environmental literature rather than
nature writing, and although McKibben seems to believe that nature writing is mainly
celebratory and environmental writing thus somehow represents a necessary movement
beyond it (xxii), American Earth is predominantly an anthology of nature writing, with
“only a few poems” and “just tiny chunks of fiction” (xxx).
understand how literary texts reflect the context of the times in which they were produced and also the times in which they have been received by readers. Our guides will include novelists, essayists, and ourselves. We will examine the current importance (as well as the controversial aspects) of evolutionary ideas, and we will emphasize the role played by literature in the development of our own environmental assumptions and values.
Bill McKibben, the editor of our primary course text, says, “an argument can be made that environmental writing is America’s most distinctive contribution to the world’s literature . . . only on this continent was Culture fully conscious while.
Economy went about the business of knocking down nature.” While these claims are subject to criticism and clarification like any broad generalizations about literature and culture, McKibben’s point is that there’s something unique about how North Americans write about the ways they have interacted with their land. Part of our purpose will be to identify and articulate this uniqueness and position ourselves as writers in relation to its dominant strands of thought. Ultimately, this will allow us to reflect on whether American society is sustainable (in other words, whether it creates a socially-just, economically-viable, and ecologically-sound society in perpetuity) and imagine what changes might or might not need to be made to create a more sustainable society.
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