EVST 254 Cultures of Nature


This team-taught course with Prof Andy Smith (Head of FAMS) is an interdisciplinary examination into the American relationship with nature. We investigate how Americans have historically interacted with, defined and currently conceive of concepts such as “nature” and “wilderness”. The course contrasts and combines arts/humanities and scientific/technology perspectives, and it merges active field-experience and field trips with the main topics and texts under discussion. Our texts include diverse nature and environmental writings, films and visual culture, plus local physical landscapes and ecosystems. We saunter, observe, hike, read, think, paddle, etc integrating site visits and activities in the Delaware River watershed with our critical explorations, so that the personal connection to place that is so central to environmental literature, art, and science becomes an essential context for our understanding. In particular, we are interested this fall in exploring the past and present nature of the Bushkill Creek corridor near campus. This is a landscape that has undergone radical change over the past 150 years – from an industrial corridor centered on hydropower, to neglect, to a bit of rediscover in recent years.

About the picture above – a late fall view of Bushkill Creek near campus. Ironically, this lovely scene is dominated by two highly invasive species: Norway maple in the foreground and Japanese knotweed on the far bank.

Link to Fall 2015 Blog

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust
“Nature is part of our humanity, and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery man ceases to be man” – Henry Beston

Pure wild animal craziness!