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Arts and Nature

ENGL 016.301
T 1:30-4:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major


In this course, we will explore many ways in which the arts have both represented and literally shaped the natural world. Nature features abundantly in books, paintings, sculpture, photography, music, and literature, but also in not so obvious media (e.g., a daisy on a dress, a lion-head door knocker). The arts have also physically constructed the natural world in, for example, environmental art, landscape architecture, and  gardening. Once you start looking, you will see this interplay everywhere. While the core of this course will be readings about the history and theory of the arts’ interactions with nature, our explorations will take us on the road outside of the classroom to (among other places) Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts; and the Morris Arboretum. Beyond Penn, we will visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bartram’s Garden, and the Academy of Natural Sciences.  Students will undertake individual projects focused on both the readings and the objects/landscapes discovered (which could combine creative and critical work, as well as weekly writing assignments).