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Wilderness, Ecology, Community

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“Wherever you are and wherever you live, what’s most important in your life in some ways connects to questions of landscape and weather and air, to relation of inner and outer worlds, imagination and fact.”                                                                                                                                         —Gary Snyder

(Scroll down for outlined course of study.)

An Alternative, Specialized Curriculum in Environmental Writing

Eastern Oregon University Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing

About the Program:

A century ago, famed poet Robinson Jeffers encouraged an earlier era of ecological awareness in his emphasis on “the fate going on outside our fate.” That perceived gap between human existence and other species has narrowed. In our era, climate change and mass extinction impinge upon Jeffers’s soft duality: nothing is “outside”; rather, we share our fate with all life-forms.

Since Jeffers’s time, our intimacy with the environment has both waxed and waned: we understand the intricacies of ecology better than ever, but we spend less time outdoors. Though our world today “seems increasingly focused on the needs of humans” as poet Melissa Kwasny said recently as visiting writer to Eastern Oregon University’s low-residency MFA, “the struggle to widen the world to one where we exist in relation to other forms of life seems crucial.”

EOU’s one-of-a-kind Wilderness, Ecology, and Community program within the low-residency MFA seeks to empower students to explore those crucial relations in a connected world.

The EOU Wilderness, Ecology, and Community program connects students to the Pacific Northwest’s rich tradition of writers and thinkers with a deep and abiding attachment to the land—William O. Douglas, Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, William Kittredge, Annick Smith, James Welch, Norman Maclean, Kim Barnes, Gloria Bird, Barry Lopez, Kathleen Dean Moore, Duane Niatum, Annie Dillard, Robert Michael Pyle, Ana Maria Spagna, John Daniel, Elizabeth Woody, and Theodore Roethke, to name only a few who are familiar to us today.

Like those in generations before them, students in the EOU Wilderness, Ecology, and Community program are drawn to the diverse geographies and manifold life-forms of the Pacific Northwest. Cautioned by the legacy of extraction and marginalization, or “slow violence,” within the region’s history, they too join their voices to the long and ongoing conversation with the landscape and its many peoples.

Situated among some of Oregon’s most remote, undeveloped areas, EOU lies in a valley surrounded by the Wallowa, Elkhorn, and Blue Mountain ranges. The Eagle Cap, Hells Canyon, North Fork Umatilla, North Fork John Day, Monument Rock, Strawberry Mountain, and Wenaha-Tucannon Wildernesses all are located nearby.

In cooperation with EOU’s Outdoor Adventure Program and our partners at Fishtrap, writing residencies and wilderness retreats will include visits and guest lectures by writers, scientists, biologists, native plants specialists, staff from the Greater Hells Canyon Council, Tamastlisk Institute of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Wallowology, and other individuals and organizations from the region.

Students enrolled in Wilderness, Ecology, and Community Program learn within a diverse and challenging curriculum that allows them to study with visiting writers as well as MFA faculty in courses that foreground writing and craft, as well as topics of both historical and contemporary interest in the field of ecological writing: climate change, environmental justice, queer ecologies, animal studies, and much more.

Given the wealth of open spaces and public lands available to students enrolled in the WEC program, and in partnership with the annual Fishtrap Writers Conference, we will use these lands as a classroom during a two-week summer residency, as well as use conventional classrooms to continue our studies in the “Wilderness Where We Are”—connecting the rural and urban Northwest.

 

WEC PROGRAM COURSE OF STUDY

(courses listed below may vary by topic and are presented here as a sample of possible offerings)

 

YEAR ONE

Summer—Residency

WR 541 Residency: Wilderness Writing Workshop [Field and Literary Journaling]

2 cr hrs

WR 542 “Wilderness Where We Are” Craft Seminar [Wilderness Thought &

Controversy] 2 cr hrs

WR 550 Residency: Generative Workshop (Fishtrap) 2 cr hrs

.

Post-Residency

WR 552 Individualized Studies: Projects in Writing 1 cr hrs

.

Fall—Distance

ENGL 536 The New Envtl Writing 4 cr hrs

WR 552 Individualized Studies: Projects in Writing 4 cr hrs

 .

Winter–Distance

WR 536 Rhetoric: The Rhetoric of Catastrophe 3 cr hrs

WR 552 Individualized Studies: Projects in Writing 4 cr hrs

WR 609 Practicum/Professional Development 1 cr hr

 .

Spring—Distance

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Queer Ecologies 4 cr hrs

or

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Environmental Justice Lit 4 cr hrs

WR 552 Individualized Studies: Projects in Writing 4 cr hrs

.

YEAR TWO:

Summer—Residency

WR 550 Residency: Generative Workshop 2 cr hrs

WR 542 Urban Sustainability Residency: Workshop 2 cr hrs

WR 541 Urban Sustainability Residency: Craft Seminar 2 cr hrs

 .

Post-Residency

WR 552 Individualized Studies: Projects in Writing 1 cr hr

 .

Fall—Distance

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: The Roots of Envtl Writing 4 cr hrs

or

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Narrative Craft 4 cr hrs

WR 552 Individualized Studies: Projects in Writing (4 cr hrs)

.

Winter—Distance

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Lyric Ecologies 4 cr hrs

or

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Pacific Northwest Place-based Lit 4 cr hrs

or

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Animal Studies 4 cr hrs

WR 660 Thesis 3 cr hrs

 .

Spring—Distance

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Literary Science Writing 4 cr hrs

or

WR 510 Special Topics in Writing: Climate Change Lit 4 cr hrs

WR 660 Thesis 3 cr hrs (second year)

.

Summer—Fishtrap

Thesis Presentation 0 cr hrs

.

Total Credit Hours        60 cr hrs