Environmental Literature

COURSE CREDIT: 3 Credit Hrs

COURSE LEVEL: 300

This course introduces students to the landscape of environmental literature, both past and present, providing a solid grounding in the field. Through key readings, discussions, and reflections of various environmental literature forms including short story, essay, and poetry, students consider what makes literature "environmental" and why this field of literature was and is so important in shaping an earthy faith, and worldview.

Course Faculty

Drew Ward, M.A. - Environmental Literature (Chaffey College, CA)

Drew Ward, M.A. - Environmental Literature (Chaffey College, CA)

Drew Ward is part of an ongoing experiment living in intentional Christian community and has been teaching Imagining the Earth in Belize and the South Pacific for the Creation Care Study Program since 2002.  With a Masters in English (emphasizing Environmental Literature) and two Bachelors, one in Classical Languages and one in Comparative Literature, all from the University of California, Irvine, and a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Drew recently taught Writing and Literature for Azusa Pacific University, and currently teaches Writing at Chaffey College. 

A writer himself, he's a former poetry editor for Creation Care magazine and consultant for Restoring Eden.  He speaks around the world about the earth, revolutionary marriage, Christian community, and the Biblical imagination.

Fred Bahnson, Th.M - Environmental Literature (Wake Forest Uni. School of Divinity, NC)

Fred Bahnson, Th.M - Environmental Literature (Wake Forest Uni. School of Divinity, NC)

Fred is a writer and permaculture gardener who lives with his wife and three sons in Transylvania County, NC. He holds a masters in theological studies from Duke Divinity School (’00) and a BA in English from Montana State University (’96). After being wooed into the agrarian life while serving as a peaceworker among Mayan coffee farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, he returned to the U.S. and in 2005 co-founded Anathoth Community Garden, a church-supported agriculture ministry in Cedar Grove, NC which he then directed until 2009. He now speaks and writes full time about the intersection of food, faith, and agriculture. His essays have appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Orion, The Sun, Christian Century, and the anthologies Best American Spiritual Writing 2007 (Houghton Mifflin), Wendell Berry and Religion (Univ. Press of Kentucky) and State of the World 2011—Innovations that Nourish the Planet (Norton). He has received a 2006 Pilgrimage Essay Award, a 2007 Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press, a 2008 William Raney scholarship in nonfiction at Bread Loaf, a 2009-10 Kellogg Food & Community fellowship at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and a 2012 North Carolina Artist fellowship in creative nonfiction from the NC Arts Council. He is co-author, with Norman Wirzba, of Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation, forthcoming from InterVarsity Press (Spring 2012) and is currently at work on Soil & Sacrament: Four Seasons Among the Keepers of the Earth, forthcoming in 2013 from Free Press (Simon & Schuster).

Lucas Sheaffer, M.A - Environmental Literature

Born in a small rural Pennsylvania community, Lucas Sheaffer was heavily influenced by the land-based farming stories of his grandfather.  As the son of an itinerant clergyman, he moved nineteen times before becoming a first generation college student.  Lucas graduated from Messiah College with a BA in English Literature and was accepted to study for a semester at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Keble College, Oxford University.  After graduating Lucas worked in undergraduate enrollment for five years.  While working, he completed a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Penn State University--Harrisburg, focusing on literature and critical theory, specifically the work of Wendell Berry and his intersections with philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

After completing his M.A. Lucas was accepted into Temple University's Ph.D. program in English in Philadelphia, PA, where his work focuses on ecological criticism, 20th century American fiction, and the relationship in narratives between land and violence.  Outside the classroom Lucas has studied in England, worked in Albania, spent a month last summer backpacking through Spain, France, and Italy with his wife Ashley, and is scheduled as a co-leader of a service-learning trip to Bolivia in the summer of 2012 where he will be assisting with the a burgeoning agro-business model in a small rural community.  Currently Lucas and Ashley live in Harrisburg, PA, where she is the Director of Messiah College's Harrisburg Institute, an urban living community focused on civic and non-profit engagement in Harrisburg.

Dr. John Dennison - Environmental Literature (Victoria Uni., Wellington NZ)

Dr. John Dennison - Environmental Literature (Victoria Uni., Wellington NZ)

John Dennison is a local Pakeha academic and writer. He grew up in Wellington, but five years in Dunedin left its mark, and he feels most at home on the South Island – the further south the better, as a rule! Perhaps that’s why he recently spent three years with his wife and young family in St Andrews, Scotland – nothing like living by the North Sea at 56° N to put you in mind of the Deep South. John’s a pretty hopeless case of academia, with degrees in English, Classics, and Theology. He’s also a poet, so you can confide to him about your secret poetry jottings and he won’t turn a hair – in fact, he’d be delighted. John taught on CCSP faculty in 2006 and 2012, and he’s looking forward to more.

Dr. Susan Felch - Environmental Literature (Calvin College, MI)

Dr. Susan Felch - Environmental Literature (Calvin College, MI)

Susan Felch  is Professor of English and Director of the Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. She grew up as a TCK (third-culture kid) in Papua New Guinea where her parents were missionary linguists. She returned to the United States for her undergraduate education at Wheaton College in music education and her Ph.D. in English from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C. She taught music K-12 and high school English for a few years before going on to graduate school, and has taught at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1992. Her interest in learning was sparked early in life by her grandfather, a farmer, who loved to read and tell stories and who never allowed his grandchildren to use a word they couldn’t spell. She has written a number of books ranging from a four-volume anthology on the Spiritual Biographies of the Seasons to scholarly works on sixteenth-century British women writers. She enjoys cats, reading, sculling on Lake Wabasis where she and her husband, Doug, have a cottage, and teaching.

Pauline Stevick, MA - Environmental Literature (Messiah College, PA)

My interest in God's creation developed early, perhaps because I grew up in the verdant ridge-and-valley section of the Appalachian Mountains close to the Susquehanna River. Similarly, I came to an early appreciation of literature in all its forms:  short stories, novels, essays, poetry.  As a ninth grader I decided I wanted to teach English, a goal that I have achieved, finding much satisfaction in my years as a public school secondary teacher and later as an adjunct instructor at Messiah College.

While in college, I met a man who shared these interests and was also a committed Christian.  Now, after forty-plus years of marriage, we share much more--not only a love of travel, but also three sons and seven grandchildren.  Teaching and traveling together in New Zealand has been one of the delightful surprises that we never envisioned in those early years.