English | Projects In Reading and Writing: Wildin' Out! Wilderness in Literature, Film, and the Popular Imagery
W170 | 17504 | Eisenberg

TOPIC:		Wildin’ Out! Wilderness in Literature, Film & the
Popular Imagery
INSTRUCTOR:	Eve Eisenberg

12770		MWF	12:20pm-1:10pm	BH 305
17504		MWF	1:25pm-2:15pm	BH 221

LOCKE: “It’s not an island. It’s a place where miracles happen.”
(LOST, Season 4)

Fans of the TV show LOST might notice that there is something almost
religious about the mystic connection between the John Locke
character and the show’s island wilderness setting. Undoubtedly, the
show’s writers tap into a way of representing the spiritualized
wilderness that we can trace back through time, and even across
various cultures. In 1912, the naturalist, John Muir likened the
American wilderness to “cathedrals and churches,” and said that
damming a river in Yosemite would be exactly like destroying a house
of worship.

Yet even if it’s true that many representations of wilderness
suggest a strong connection between human spirituality and the
world’s wild places, we can also find representations in which
wilderness corrupts the human mind (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness),
causes us to behave cruelly (Golding’s The Lord of the Flies), or
weakens our ethical connections to other human beings (TV’s
Survivor). Analyzing how people represent wilderness tells us more
about them (and how they see their fellow human beings) than about
wilderness itself.

This course fulfills the English Composition requirement, and, as
such, it is primarily a writing course, with a strong focus on
critical reading and analytical writing skills. Students will read
and write to explore a wide range of wilderness narratives through
multiple media such as poems, short stories, television shows,
fiction and non-fiction films, commercial advertisements, and news
coverage. We’ll explore questions such as: How have people
identified and represented wilderness spaces at different times and
in different places? How and why do representations of wilderness
thread through so many aspects of culture? What can we learn about
someone from the way he or she imagines and represents wilderness?
Course goals include developing strategies for analyzing texts from
various media, acquiring the necessary descriptive strategies for
putting analyses into words, learning how to back up opinions with
research, and structuring persuasive arguments.