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C LIT 240 D: Writing in Comparative Literature

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:10am - 11:20am
THO 101
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Leah Rubinsky

Syllabus Description:

U.S. Environmental Concerns: A Writing Course

Revision and Re-grading Policy

This course explores the strategic ways in which writers use genre and rhetorical strategies to communicate perspectives on nature, the environment and key environmental problems, especially as they intersect with issues of power and privilege in a U.S. context. Beginning with an examination of the the term “nature,” the course turns to Indigenous and ecocritical theoretical lenses to unpack this concept and its meanings. Using a variety of texts including narrative essays, nonfiction writing, film clips, academic journal articles, poetry and more, we will think about how our relationships to nature are shaped by overarching social and political structural forces, such as colonialism, racism, sexism, classism, capitalism and others. We will use this theme of communicating environmental messages to think about the role of composition (both written and other forms) and how we can both understand and manipulate genres and rhetorical strategies in the service of our own arguments and projects.

Required Course Materials


  •         Notebook paper and pens/pencil
  •         A folder to keep track of all assignments
  •         Access to a computer, a printer, and the internet



  • One-page response posts (300-450 words), due on Canvas (3 out of 4) (10%)
  • Four papers:
    • Paper 1: Social Construction of Nature Paper 2-3 pages (15%)
    • Paper 2: Narrative Essay: Encounter with Place / Nature 4-6 pages(20%)
    • Paper 3: Comparative Genre / Rhetorical Analysis Paper 5-7 pages (25%)
    • Paper 4: Genre Translation Sequence: Translate a passage of a text into a different genre + writer’s memo 2-3 pages (15%)
  • Class Participation (10%), including group work, active participation in peer review and class discussions, and any other in-class assignments.
  • Facilitate discussion of a text (5%) (Brief, five minute presentation that includes a quick summary of the text, relevant information / background on author and three questions to help lead class discussion on the text)

Attendance Policy

Your regular attendance is required and your participation grade will be lowered for poor attendance. Please communicate with me about your absences as much as possible. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the assignments, class notes, and course changes from a classmate. If you miss class on a day that written work is due, you are still expected to turn your work in on time. In-class work cannot be made up. Also, be advised that this is an intensive summer course and the pace of the class is fast. If you begin to fall behind, that can become a problem. It will be difficult to catch up if you miss class. That said, I allow ONE free, no-penalty, no-questions-asked absence for the term. This can be used for a day when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or extra tired, or you want to catch one of the World Cup games, or if it’s your birthday. Be advised that any additional absences will begin to impact your overall participation grade in the class and that you are still required to make up any work that may have missed on that one day.


Late Work Policy

Late work and work that is too short/unfinished will not be given any written feedback. Late work will NOT be accepted.  E-mail me if you are experiencing extenuating circumstances.


Code of Conduct

Again, this is a course in which respectful discussion, disagreement and exchange are encouraged. That is the point of learning together in a classroom community; we challenge each other’s views and we grow from those discussions. I do not, however, hold space in the classroom for hate speech of any kind. According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is “any speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.” Understanding that marginalized communities and people are vulnerable to and impacted by such speech in ways that groups or individuals in power are not, I interpret “hate speech” to be any forms of speech that targets already vulnerable people/communities. Racism and xenophobia will not be tolerated in this course, nor will transphobia, homophobia, ableism, classism, or other statements or practices that uphold white supremacy.


Academic integrity clause

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.


Accommodations clause

If you need accommodation of any sort, please let me know so that I can work with the UW Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) to provide what you require. This syllabus is available in large print, as are other class materials. More information about accommodation may be found at

Campus safety

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  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
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For more information visit the SafeCampus website at




Week 1: Social Construction of Nature

Class Activities


6/18 Monday

-Introductions, syllabus

-What is nature / environment?

-Read Cronon’s “Trouble with Wilderness” on Canvas

6/19 Tuesday

-Social constructions of nature

-Discuss Cronon’s “Trouble with Wilderness”

-Introduction to Genres

-Read Louis Owen’s “Burning the Shelter”

- 1-2 page Personal Reflection paper due on Canvas by 9:00 AM Wednesday

6/20 Wednesday

-Discuss Louis Owen’s “Burning the Shelter”

-Compare Cronon and Owens


*First Canvas Response Post due on Canvas by 9:00 AM Thursday

-Read “Key Concepts Informing Early Conservation Thought” on Canvas

6/21 Thursday

-Discuss “Key Concepts Informing Early Conservation Thought”

-Genres and nature as social constructs

-2-3 page Social Construction of Nature Paper ROUGH DRAFT due Sunday 7/1 by midnight on Canvas, Bring hard copy to class Monday for peer-review

-Read “Landscape and the Pueblo Imagination” -Silko

Week 2: Relationships to Place, Nature and Environment

Class Activities


6/25 Monday

-Peer review of social constructions of nature paper

Re-cap of Genre

-Discuss “Landscape and the Pueblo Imagination” -Silko


-Narrative Essay as a genre

*Second Canvas Response Post due on Canvas by 9:00 AM Tuesday

-Read excerpt from Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire

6/26 Tuesday

-Discuss Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire


-Read bell hooks’ “Touching the Earth”.

--Final Social Construction of Nature paper due Wednesday 6/27 by midnight

6/27 Wednesday

-Discuss hooks’ “Touching the Earth”

-*STUDENT-LEAD FACILITATION of hooks’ “Touching the Earth” chapter

-Read excerpts from Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez (on Canvas)

6/28 Thursday

-Discuss Crossing Open Ground excerpts


-Writing a narrative essay (genre and rhetorical strategies)

Narrative Paper Rough Draft due Monday 7/2 by midnight, bring hard copy to class for peer review

-Read Rachel Carson’s “Introduction” to Silent Spring

Week 3: Genre and Rhetorical Strategies

Class Activities


7/2 Monday


-Introduction to Rachel Carson and Silent Spring

-Peer review of Narrative Paper

-Final Draft

-Read Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass”

7/3 Tuesday

-Rhetorical Strategies, analysis and genre

-Discuss “Braiding Sweetgrass” *STUDENT-LEAD FACILITATION of Kimmerer’s text

-Comparative Genre Paper Prompt

-Create an outline (in whatever genre or form you would like, from bullet points to random words to a formal outline) of your ideas for your paper

-Final Narrative Paper due Wednesday 7/4 by midnight

7/4 Wednesday


7/5 Thursday

-Formulating academic arguments

-Organization strategies for Comparative Genre / Rhetorical Analysis Paper

-Comparative Genre / Rhetorical Analysis Rough Draft due Monday 7/9, bring hard copy to class for peer-review

-Read Wendell Berry’s “Faustian Economics” on Canvas

Week 4: Arguments Across Genres

Class Activities


7/9 Monday

-Peer-review Comparative Genre Paper

-Discuss Wendell Berry’s “Faustian Economics”

*Third Canvas Response Post due on Canvas by 9:00 AM Tuesday


7/10 Tuesday

Visual Arguments: Climate Change

-Visual rhetorical analysis

-Clips from “Chasing Ice,” “Before the Flood” and

Final Comparative Genre / Rhetorical Analysis Rough Draft due Wednesday 7/11 by midnight

7/11 Wednesday

- Multimodal Arguments: Climate Change

7/12 Thursday

- Genre Translation Prompt

Genre Translation Paper + Memo Rough Drafts due Monday 7/16 in class, bring hard copy for peer review

-Read excerpts from Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms

Last Week: Wrap-Up

Class Activities


7/16 Monday

-Presenting genre translations in small groups

-Peer review of genre translation

-Discuss Solar Storms

*Fourth Canvas Response Post due on Canvas by 9:00 AM Wednesday

-Bring to class a hard copy of one of your favorite pieces of writing from the course

7/17 Tuesday

-Strategic use of genres to communicate messages about environments

7/18 Wednesday

-Wrap-up (food party?)



Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:03pm