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Guide to American Nature Writing

American Nature Writing:

A Guide to "Green" Literature



| Introduction & Scope | Bibliographies & Research Guides | Encyclopedias & Dictionaries | | Anthologies & Collections | Databases | Periodicals | Articles | Literary Criticism |
| Literary Nonfiction | Fiction | Poetry | Internet Sources |


INTRODUCTION & SCOPE

Perhaps because we began as pioneers in the wilderness, America has a strong tradition of “nature writing” - works of literature grounded in ideals pertaining to the natural world. As witnessed through the work of Native American writers, the Transcendentalists, more modern nature writers of the 20th and early 21st centuries, and others, it is clear that the natural environment and ecology have played a very significant role in the development of our literary traditions. While many point to Henry David Thoreau’s seminal work, Walden, as the quintessential work of nature writing, this discipline truly encompasses a wide array of literature which includes literary nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and ecocriticism.


As evidenced by the number of societies, websites, and periodicals devoted to “green” literature, it is clear that nature writing has a strong and enthusiastic following. Particularly in light of recent activism and awareness about human impacts on the environment and global warming, these issues as expressed in literary form become even more relevant. Nature writing is often based in scientific research and fact, but the way in which this writing is presented allows it to reach a wider audience and provide a broader, unique perspective (witness the change that came as a result of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring).


Included in this pathfinder are some previously published bibliographies and research guides on the topic, meant to further aid users in their research. However, a new guide is needed as these are over ten years old and are limited in scope. The encyclopedias, dictionaries, anthologies, collections, and other reference works are intended to provide a basic overview of the genre, and the indexes and bibliographies contained in such sources are great places to begin one’s research. The databases that were chosen are those that contain the most relevant articles on the topic, and the periodicals and articles included give the reader a very good impression about views and current issues in the field of nature writing today. Nature writing is often defined as simply pertaining to literary nonfiction. However, poetry and fiction dealing with similar themes are also included here so as to give the user a broader perspective on “green” literature in America. In most cases, the works of literary nonfiction, fiction, and poetry listed here are written by the most prominent authors in the genre, and these works are often cited as benchmark texts in the world of nature writing.


This research guide is not exhaustive, but attempts to help the user discover some of the best that American nature writing has to offer in terms of authors, works, and themes. While this guide may be geared toward students and literary scholars, it can also aid members of the general public with any inquiries about environmental literature. Included works and databases are limited to those that are held by the Indiana University, Bloomington Libraries, or those that may be accessed online for free.


Guide to Abbreviations

Wells = Herman B Wells Main Library - Graduate Collection (East Tower)
Wells Reference = Wells Reference Reading Room (East Tower)
Wells UGL = Wells Undergraduate Collection (West Tower)
SPEA = Business School/School of Public & Environmental Affairs Library
Life Sciences = Life Sciences Library (Jordan Hall A304)
ALF = Auxiliary Library Facility

Subject Headings

When conducting a search for various titles related to “green” literature, the following LC subject headings will be very useful:

  • Ecocriticism
  • Ecology—Poetry
  • Ecology in Literature
  • Environmental Literature
  • Environmental Literature—Authorship
  • Environmental policy in literature
  • Environmental protection in literature
  • Environmental protection—Fiction
  • Environmentalists—Fiction
  • Nature in Literature
  • Nature—Effect of human beings on—Fiction
  • Nature—Fiction
  • Nature—Literary Collections
  • Nature—Poetry
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BIBLIOGRAPHIES & RESEARCH GUIDES

  • Choinski, Elizabeth. “Literary Life Sciences: A Guide to ‘Good’ Books in Biology.” Reference Services Review Fall 1995 23(3): 59-62, 68.

    This bibliographic essay does not attempt to be comprehensive, but instead focuses on “works that cover a broad spectrum of topics written in the latter half of this century” (59). Choinski’s goal is to provide a listing of more recent works that combine strong science with “a readable and enjoyable prose style” (59). Approximately 18 titles are included with annotations, subdivided into topics like “Evolution” and “Ecology, Conservation, and Natural History.” A great sampling of modern nature writers and their work.

  • Delaney-Lehman, Maureen. “Writings and Writers on the Aesthetics of Nature.” Wilson Library Bulletin April 1995: 44-47.

    The author limits her selections here to monographs by North American writers published after 1990, and includes some reprints of “time-honored classics” in nature writing (44). Defining nature writing and its most important themes, she lists and annotates these books under the headings “Anthologies,” “Authors For Every Library,” “Biography and Related Works,” “A Sense of Place,” and “Women Authors.” This is a great source for anyone focusing on nature writing of the early 1990’s or a student interested in learning more about key authors in the genre.

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ENCYCLOPEDIAS & DICTIONARIES

  • Netzley, Patricia D., ed. Environmental Literature: An Encyclopedia of Works, Authors, and Themes. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
    [SPEA GE35 .E58 1999]

    This work is an excellent, fairly recent ready-reference guide entirely devoted to nature writing. The entries for works, authors, and themes are arranged together in the text alphabetically, but at the start of the encyclopedia a reader can find separate lists of these entries arranged categorically (according to authors, works, and themes). The editor explains that entries focus on “book-length” works, excluding shorter works such as individual poems and essays – however, collections of such shorter works are included. Each entry is relatively small in length, containing references, but none are signed. The encyclopedia includes many black and white prints, a lengthy bibliography of sources at the back, and a detailed index.

  • Parini, Jay, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. s.v. “Nature Writing: Poetry,” by Aaron K. DiFranco; s.v. “Nature Writing: Prose,” by John Elder. 4 vols.
    [Wells Reference PS21 .E537 2004]

    In this thorough treatment, the genre of “Nature Writing” is subdivided into two lengthy entries on poetry and prose. These articles combine for a total of 20 pages. Each entry clearly defines the genre(s), highlights key poets/authors, and presents chronologies and explanations of the various movements and issues within nature writing. Both articles contain photographs, extensive cross-referencing, and lists of further reading on the topic.

  • Serafin, Steven R., ed. Encyclopedia of American Literature. New York: Continuum Publishing Company, 1999. s.v. “Nature and Landscape,” by Kent P. Ljungquist.
    [Wells Reference PS21 .E53 1999]

    This entry is primarily a definitional and chronological discussion of the role that nature has played in the course of American literature. The article is an excellent source for finding key authors within each movement, many of whom are cross-referenced internally through the use of capitalized typeface. A short bibliography is included.

  • Wiget, Andrew, ed. Dictionary of Native American Literature. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994.
    [Wells PM155 .D53 1994]

    Composed of 73 essays by various experts on Native American literature, this is a great reference title for any student of nature writing who would like to learn more about its Native American influences and issues. Divided into three main topical sections (“oral literature,” “historical emergence,” and the “renaissance” of 1967 to the present), each essay is thoroughly researched and includes a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Reference to the subject index will direct students to various essays discussing “cosmology,” which is cross-referenced with “nature.” Nature writing is essentially inherent in much of Native American writing, so it might be best to have a specific subtopic, author or movement in mind when using this volume.

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ANTHOLOGIES & COLLECTIONS

  • Branch, Michael P., ed. Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing Before Walden. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004.
    [Life Sciences QH104 .R43 2004]

    Though Thoreau is often considered the father of American nature writing, Branch aims here to reveal the long tradition of writing about the American landscape prior to Thoreau’s work. This varied collection of essays, letters, slave narratives, journals, and more, by well-known and obscure authors alike (including Christopher Columbus and Lewis and Clark), dates from this continent’s “discovery” by the explorers to the middle of the 19th century, and spans a broad array of geographical settings. The introduction by Branch provides a strong historical and contextual framework for these writings. A listing of further reading is provided at the end of the text, which includes some authors whose work was not contained in this anthology.

  • Dallmeyer, Dorina G., ed. Elemental South: An Anthology of Southern Nature Writing. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004.
    [SPEA PS509.N3 E43 2004]

    In her Preface, Dallmeyer gives a strong background on how this small volume came into being, and speaks to the ways in which nature has a highly significant impact upon southern writers. Organized into four themed sections on earth, air, fire, and water, the writers of the Southern Nature Project present essays, poetry, and other reflections about the intersections of the southern U.S. and the natural world. In the epilogue, entitled “Why We Write,” 11 of the contributors present their own further perspectives on what it means to be a southern nature writer. Also found at the end are short biographies of each contributing writer.

  • Finch, Robert, and John Elder, eds. College edition. The Norton Book of Nature Writing. New York: Norton, 2002.
    [SPEA QH81 .N67 2002]

    This hefty volume would serve as an excellent foundational text for any nature writing college course. This books contains chronologically-arranged sample writings from some of the discipline’s best known writers, as well as other unexpected authors such as Virginia Woolf and Samuel Clemens. Both the introduction to the 1990 edition, as well as a new introduction, are included – these essays provide a history and context to the genre of nature writing, highlighting key authors, works, and movements. Also found here is a useful author/title index, and a list of references and permissions for the works contained.

  • Lyon, Thomas J., ed. This Incomperable Lande: A Book of American Nature Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.
    [ALF QH81 .T355 1989]

    Lyon’s book stands as a benchmark guide to the world of nature writing. The first part of the text, entitled simply “History,” contains a chronological timeline of events, a definition of the genre, a critical essay by Lyon on “The American Setting,” and three other essays that discuss the early days of the genre up through contemporary work. The rest of the book is the anthology itself, arranged chronologically. The volume contains significant writings by such famous naturalists as John James Audubon, Rachel Carson, Barry Lopez, and others. One of the best features of this book is Lyon’s annotated bibliography of “the best nature writing” – he has divided this guide into “primary” works that reflect personal encounters with nature, and “secondary” works that take a more philosophical position. Copious notes, as well as a subject/title/name index, appear at the end of the text.

  • Satterfield, Terre, and Scott Slovic, eds. What’s Nature Worth?: Narrative Expressions of Environmental Values. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004.
    [Wells PS163 .W46 2004]

    This volume is based on interviews with twelve well-known nature writers and includes samples of their work. The perspectives of these literary personalities help explain how the power of “storytelling” can impact the ways in which we as a culture formally treat the environment and our natural world through policies and practices.

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DATABASES

All databases are available through the "Find Information" page at the online headquarters of IUB Libraries. Text contained in quotes is taken from the descriptions of each database provided by IUB Libraries.

  • America: History & Life. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 1964-.

    “Covers the history of the United States and Canada from pre-history to the present, indexing more than 2,000 journals published worldwide, dissertations and reviews.” Updated on an ongoing basis. Contains abstract summaries. This database offers the searcher the ability to limit by time period, a very useful tool depending on the query. In Advanced Search, conduct a Keyword query for “nature writing*” (using truncation).

  • Annual Bibliography of English Language & Literature. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest, 1920-.

    “Compiled by the Modern Humanities Research Association, ABELL contains more than 807,000 bibliographic records: monographs, articles, book reviews, essay collections, and dissertations published from 1920.” Updated monthly. In the Search screen, conduct a search for ‘nature writing OR environmental literature’ – limit to articles for scholarly results.

  • Lexis-Nexis Environmental. Dayton, OH: LexisNexis, 1975-.

    “Search abstracts and full text through Environment Abstracts; access federal and state codes, agency regulations; case law, agency decisions; waste site data, hazardous materials.” This database does not contain a great deal of nature writing scholarship – however, it does contain more scientific and legal data that can be a useful supplement to the study of nature writing. Updated daily. Contains full-text as well as abstracts. Sources retrieved will be more popular and news-dominated than scholarly. A Quick News Search under the Academic field for ‘nature writing’ will produce many relevant results.

  • Literature Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.

    “Biographies, bibliographies, and critical analysis of authors from all time periods in many genres. Search by author, title, genre, literary movement or literary themes.” Updated annually, or as new editions of reference works become available. Periodicals updated daily. Queries can be limited by document type for a more specific search, and tabs in the search results allow the user to narrow the results to literary criticism, biographies, bibliographies, additional resources, and literary-historical timelines. In the Advanced Search, conduct a query for ‘“nature writing” OR “environmental literature”’ in the Keyword field.

  • MLA International Bibliography. Ipswich, MA: EBSCO Industries, Inc., 1963-.

    “The MLA Bibliography indexes material in modern languages, literature, linguistics and folklore. It contains references to scholarly research in more than 3,000 journals and series, in monographs, chapters of books, working papers, dissertations, proceedings, Festschriften and bibliographies.” Updated quarterly. Full-text available for certain items. Searches can be limited by time period, publication date, type, language, genre, and can be narrowed to scholarly articles. In Advanced Search, limit to peer-reviewed for scholarly works, and conduct a query in the Title field for ‘“nature writing” OR “environmental literature”’ for the best results.

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PERIODICALS

  • Orion. Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society and the Myrin Institute, 1982-.
    ISSN: 1058-3130

    A bi-monthly magazine that focuses on the intersections between the natural and human worlds, this periodical is a popular publishing avenue for many of the nature writers listed in this pathfinder. Each issue contains stories and memoirs, poetry, reports of activism, climate change, and more. Full text of many articles, dating back to about 2001, can be found online at www.orionmagazine.org. See the “Internet Sources” section of this pathfinder for more information on The Orion Society.

  • ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. Reno, NV: Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, 1993-.
    ISSN: 1076-0962

    Usually published twice a year, this peer-reviewed journal is the official publication of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), an organization devoted to ecocriticism and ecological literature. Please refer to the “Internet Sources” section of this pathfinder for more information on ASLE. Each issue of the journal may include interviews, book reviews, discussions of classroom practices in the discipline, poetry, literary nonfiction essays, as well as scholarly articles. This journal is indexed in MLA International Bibliography, and more information about the periodical can be found online here.

  • Environmental History. Durham, NC: Forest History Society and the American Society for Environmental History, 1996-.
    ISSN: 1084-5453

    Published quarterly, this refereed interdisciplinary journal is distributed jointly by the Forest History Society and the American Society for Environmental History. Topics such as history, geography, literature, and more are covered, and the periodical also includes book reviews, bibliographies of articles, books, dissertations, and archival materials. Full text of issues dating back to 2003 is available online for free at www.historycooperative.org, and the journal is also indexed in several subscription databases such as America: History & Life.

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ARTICLES

  • Hamilton, Joan. “Nature 101.” Sierra Magazine November/December 2000. 23 May 2007 http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200011/nature.asp.

    Hamilton discusses the growing recent trend of “environmental literature” courses at America’s universities, focusing here on a profile of Professor Robert Hass and his class at the University of California, Berkeley. The author highlights significant nature writers like Thoreau and Leopold, discusses student reactions to the course and its material, touches on nature writing’s place in the wider landscape of literature, and includes an annotated list of a dozen “classics” in this genre (many of which are also found in this guide).

  • Kroeber, Karl. “Ecology and American Literature: Thoreau and Un-Thoreau.” American Literary History 1997 9(2): 309-328.

    This essay traces the history of American environmental writing, making contrasts between those writers in Thoreau’s tradition and those who differ. Kroeber highlights some of the most important authors and poets, movements, conflicts, and works in ecological literature. He argues that in order for this genre to remain relevant, modern nature writers must move away from the Thoreauvian sentimentalist tradition and move toward a style more influenced by the presentation of empirical scientific data.

  • Price, Jenny. “Writers’ Block.” Conservation Magazine: A Publication of the Society for Conservation Biology April-June 2007 8(2). 18 May 2007 http://www.conbio.org/cip/article82wri.cfm.

    Price’s tagline here says it all: “earnest, pious, and quite allergic to irony: nature writing has none of the trademark qualities that play well in 2007. So is it time for a change?” She argues for such a change in perspective in the world of nature writing, one with a focus on the ways in which humans interact with nature in their everyday lives, rather than the awe-filled worship of the natural world in its simplest form. Price uses the example of “mango body whip,” a high-end skin cream purchased in Los Angeles, to illustrate that consumers use natural products every day, and claims it would be far more interesting to conduct an analysis of the human relationship with such products, for example, than to engage in yet another analysis of “nature as a wild place.”

  • Raglon, Rebecca. “Voicing the World: Nature Writing as a Critique of the Scientific Method.” Canadian Review of American Studies Summer 1991 22(1): 23-32.

    This essay traces the history of various perspectives on the relationship between science and literature in the genre of nature writing. The author argues that as long as this genre continues to be defined as the intersection of these two disciplines, it will be seen as “less ‘scientific’ than science and less ‘literary’ than literature.” By highlighting the statements of several writers such as Edward Abbey who shun the scientific label, Raglon makes the case that the best aspect of nature writing is its subjective ability to depict nature – she claims that the genre should be “an alternative to the scientific viewpoint” (32).

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LITERARY CRITICISM

  • Adamson, Joni. American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice, and Ecocriticism: The Middle Place. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001.
    [Wells PS153.I52 A33 2001]

    Composed of eight individual essays, this book examines the prominent theme of human interaction with the land in the poetry, prose, and, fiction of several Native American writers. By focusing on a few representative texts, Adamson intends to provide a more multicultural perspective on environmental literature. This book is extensively researched, contains a lengthy bibliography and subject index.

  • Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1995.
    [SPEA PS3057.N3 B84 1995]

    Buell’s impressive work of scholarship has as its primary goal the exploration of the ways in which environmental texts have influenced literary research and consequently, American culture. He uses Thoreau and Walden as a focal point, but moves beyond this text to include many other works of nature writing. In his lengthy introduction, he defines “environmental text” for the reader and discusses the various cultural perspectives present in the history of American nature writing, including the differences between Anglo and Native American work. The 12 main essays here are divided into three sections: “Historical and Theoretical Contexts;” “Forms of Literary Ecocentrism;” and “Environmental Sainthood.” The appendix also consists of one final essay entitled “Nature’s Genres: Environmental Nonfiction at the Time of Thoreau’s Emergence.” Also contained in the volume is a thorough subject index. This book is extensively researched, and would be a wonderful source for any student or scholar of nature writing.

  • Ingram, Annie Merrill, ed. Coming Into Contact: Explorations in Ecocritical Theory and Practice. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007.
    [Wells PS169.E25 C66 2007]

    This very current publication is a compilation of 16 essays that take a unique look at new ways to study literature’s relationship with nature. A strong focus of the work is the link between theory and practice, including activism, new methods of architecture, an examination of the urban landscape of the Northeastern United States, and more. Also prominent is the importance of the physical sciences to environmental literature.

  • Rosendale, Steven, ed. The Greening of Literary Scholarship: Literature, Theory, and the Environment. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2002.
    [Wells PN98.E36 R67 2002]

    Intended primarily for students and scholars, this work intends to provide a contextual framework for the rapidly emerging field of “ecocriticism,” or the analysis of environmental literature. The 13 essays contained in this volume are divided into three themed categories, and a broad array of issues, from feminism to textual editing, are examined here. A list of the contributors and their credentials can be found at the end of the book, along with a lengthy bibliography and subject index. This text is a perfect resource for any scholarly study of “green” literature.

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LITERARY NONFICTION

This subgenre is the backbone of American nature writing – also look for works by Edward Abbey, John Muir, and other authors listed in the anthologies and reference works found in this guide.

  • Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962; 1987.
    [Wells QH545.P4 C38 1987]

    Originally published in 1962, Carson’s classic work of environmental persuasion sparked changes in legislation and had a strong influence on American culture. This book is Carson’s letter of protest against the damages caused by DDT, and her writing changed the way we think about our impact on the natural world. In this 25th anniversary edition, Paul Brooks provides an excellent description of Carson herself in his foreword: “Rachel Carson was a realistic, well-trained scientist who possessed the insight and sensitivity of a poet”(xiii). Black and white illustrations by Lois and Louis Darling accompany Carson’s original text. A lengthy list of research sources as well as a detailed index can be found at the end of the book.

  • Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. New York: Harper’s Magazine Press, 1974.
    [Wells UGL QH81 .D578]

    This classic, winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, is a series of connected essays about Dillard’s experiences living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her work is a meditation on the ways in which we do and do not appreciate the natural world around us, and her memoir is an essential text for any environmental literature course.

  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Nature and Selected Essays. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
    [Wells UGL PS1602 .Z5 2003]

    This recent collection of some of Emerson’s most famous works includes a very useful biographical and historical essay as its introduction. Nature, perhaps the author’s best-known text, is contained herein along with many other works that lend insight to Emerson’s view of the relationship between nature and the divine. “Suggestions for Further Reading,” found just after the introduction, is very useful in highlighting important Emerson biographies, studies on his thoughts, his journals, and his place in literary scholarship.

  • Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966.
    [Wells UGL QH81 .L56 1966]

    Illustrated by Charles W. Schwartz and published just after the author’s death, this is Leopold’s most famous work – it has been translated into nine languages and over two million copies have been printed. Beginning as a scientist and conservationist, Leopold wanted to reach the public with his message about the importance of nature in our lives, and he did so with this book. Based on his experiences at his home in Wisconsin, Leopold encouraged readers to develop a “Land Ethic,” an influential concept of respect for the “land” and principles of conservation. Often compared to Thoreau’s Walden, this text set the standard for literary nonfiction nature writing in the later part of the 20th century.

  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.
    [Wells PS3048 .A2 C73 2004]

    This is a relatively new, fully annotated edition of Thoreau’s classic work that has generally come to define the genre of nature writing. The book includes maps, illustrations, and parallel notes alongside the original Walden text as well as explanatory notes at the end. Excellent bibliography for further reading and an extensive subject index.

  • Williams, Terry Tempest. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.
    [Wells UGL RC280.B8 W47 1992]

    Williams’ beautiful memoir discusses the deaths of her mother, grandmother, and other loved ones from cancer in the context of the government’s nuclear testing in the nearby Nevada desert. She marks each chapter with a measurement of the water level of Great Salt Lake, the flooding of which negatively impacted the bird sanctuaries around this body of water. Alternating between sadness and joy, Williams tells the story of her family amid the backdrop of their natural environment.

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FICTION

  • Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang. New York: HarperCollins, 1975; 2000.
    [Wells PS3551.B2 M7 1975]

    Abbey is one of the foremost American nature writers of the 20th century, and this novel is his “masterpiece.” Often characterized as a “desert anarchist,” Abbey infuses his writing with humor, honesty, and stubbornness in the telling of how a small group of individuals conspired to take down “big government” and “big business” as these forces wrought environmental havoc on the American West. A new introduction by Douglas Brinkley accompanies the 2000 publication, and it provides background and history about the author and the ways in which this novel has impacted the American cultural lexicon.

  • Austin, Mary. Stories from the Country of Lost Borders. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987.
    [Wells PS3501.U8 A6 1987]

    Austin is a nature writer steeped in the tradition of Thoreau and John Muir, and her work generally focused on the American West and Native American environmental tradition. In the introduction to this volume, written by Marjorie Pryse, a lengthy history and context are provided for the two texts by Austin contained herein: The Land of Little Rain and Lost Borders. These titles are two of Austin’s best-known works, and the former is fully illustrated. Also contained is a selected bibliography of works by Austin and other sources, as well as a useful glossary of Spanish and English terms.

  • Mitchell, Don. The Nature Notebooks. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2004.
    [Wells PS3563.I75 N38 2004]

    This novel tells the story of how three women, students in a nature writing class, were recruited for an act of eco-terrorism against the development of a ski lodge in their Vermont town. Told through separate accounts in the notebook of each woman, the author develops a compelling narrative that examines the complicated issues of conservation. Also contains discussion questions and a reading group guide.

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POETRY

  • Berry, Wendell. A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997. Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 1998.
    [Wells PS3552.E75 T55 1998]

    The poet, winner of the T.S. Eliot Award, recommends in his preface that these poems are meant to be read as they were written: “in silence, in solitude, mainly out of doors” (xvii). Arranged in chronological order, these short, contemplative poems reveal Berry’s strong relationship with nature as well as address such human issues as war, technology, and other topics.

  • Pack, Robert, and Jay Parini, eds. Poems for a Small Planet: Contemporary American Nature Poetry. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1993.
    [Wells PS595.N22 P63 1993]

    Part of The Bread Loaf Anthology series, this volume contains over 250 poems by 83 poets written in the latter part of the 20th century. Quite varied in mood, tone, style, and length, these poems are a collective response to the destruction of nature that has occurred in our more recent history. The list of contributors contains brief information about each poet, and the afterword is an essay by Pack entitled “Taking Dominion Over the Wilderness.”

  • Wright, Richard. Haiku: This Other World. New York: Arcade Pub., 1998.
    [Wells PS3545.R47 H35 1998]

    Best known for his classic works of the African-American experience, Native Son and Black Boy, toward the end of his life Wright became fascinated with the Japanese tradition of haiku poetry. Though he wrote over 4,000 haiku, he selected for publication the roughly 800 poems contained in this volume just prior to his death. These short poems reveal a gentle love for nature that stands in stark contrast to the tone of his more famous works. The book contains a biographical introduction written by Wright’s daughter, an afterword explaining the intersection of English and Japanese in haiku tradition, and notes that clarify individual poems at the end.

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INTERNET SOURCES

  • The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment

    The Association (ASLE), founded in 1992, serves as the professional and scholarly foundation for those pursuing study in environmental literature, ecocriticism, and other related interdisciplinary fields. ASLE is an allied organization of the Modern Language Association. This website contains a wealth of information: news, travel grant guidelines, full-text articles listed under “Introduction to Ecocriticism,” access to ASLE’s annual bibliography of scholarship in the discipline, a handbook on graduate programs, course syllabi, job listings, and more. This website is frequently updated, and all information is easy to find and free to access. This is a must-have source for any student or scholar of literature and the environment.

  • The Orion Society

    This site is the online headquarters for The Orion Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the relationship between humans and nature. The Society publishes the Orion magazine, described by the Boston Globe as “America’s finest environmental magazine,” and also runs the Orion Grassroots Network, which has over 1,000 member groups working for environmental change all over the world. This excellent site contains internships and job listings, connects readers to articles in Orion, provides a history of the Society and its various publications, and is a virtual bevy of resources for those interested in the environment, writing, activism, etc.

  • The Walden Woods Project

    The stated mission of this Project is to “preserve the land, literature, and legacy of Henry David Thoreau to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility” (source). The three core principles of the Project are conservation, education, and research. Their website contains information about the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods Library and its collection, upcoming events, educational programs, news, a map of Walden Woods, and more. This site is definitely an excellent resource for students, scholars, or anyone who would like to learn more about the legacy of Thoreau and his work.

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This pathfinder was created by Tierney V. Dwyer
Graduate Student - Master of Library Science
School of Library & Information Science
Indiana University, Bloomington
Created: May 21, 2007
Last Updated: June 4, 2007
Please contact me if you have any questions/comments.

last updated: 5/14/2010