As I mentioned yesterday, I will be teaching a couple of courses at Son #2's school. The format is not too dissimilar to what we might expect to see in an RE program for high school kids or adults. Today I am posting the reading list for "Nature and Spirituality" a course in which we examine a few key works on the subject and then expand to a couple of modern poets. i am hoping this all works out. We shall see.
What I DO know is that it will probably make a good Adult RE program some day, so if you want to get ahead on your reading. Here it is...
Spirituality and Nature: Transcendentalists and Their Influence
One of the most important contributions made by the transcendentalist movement in the 19th Century was a re-analysis of the place of humanity in the natural world. Two of the most important contributors to this work were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. We will concentrate our discussions on two of their more important and accessible works. In addition (and as time permits), we will consider later writers who added depth and breadth to the conversation.
We also discuss what sort of project we might engage in to properly synthesize what we learn.
Reading: The basic readings for this course are two essays and a book.
“On Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
“ Among the Isles of Shoals” by Celia Thaxter
“Walking” by Henry David Thoreau
We will begin with the Emerson essay and then decide which book we ant to read next.
Probably the easiest way to obtain the the Emerson and Thoreau essays is to purchase this book:
Also, “On Nature” is available online here:
“ Among the Isles of Shoals” by Celia Thaxter is sometimes found in bookstores but can be ordered as well. I have not yet found a version online.
"Walking" does have an online version:
While they are relatively short, they are dense and provide us with fertile ground in which to explore. However, the discipline of nature writing has expanded and grown since the 19th Century. We will look at two books of poetry.
“ Crossing the Field” by Kate Barnes This book is most easily found online
“Winter Tenor” by Kevin Goodan is available from the publisher
We will read and discuss each book. Some may take more than one session. Some may take less than one. Three of these authors (Emerson, Thoreau, Thaxter) were part of the New England transcendentalist movement. Each has a different approach to nature and spirituality. The other two books are contemporary poetry collections. Kate Barnes is the first poet laureate of Maine. Kevin Goodan is less known but has an interesting, somewhat darker, approach.