Prof. Pamela Gossin Office: JO: 3.118
Office Phone: (UTD) 972-883-2071
Office Hours: Wednesday 6-6:50 pm; Thursday 10:30-11:30 am

A&H 3300 Sections 501 and 002
Wednesday 7:00-9:45 p.m. and Thursday 12:30-3:15 p.m.
Reading and Writing Texts: Natural Wonders


The official purpose of this course is "to develop and enhance students' abilities to question, investigate, integrate, think and write about and respond to texts in Arts and Humanities." Although we will discuss grammatical problems and issues, this is NOT a basic grammar review course. This course satisfies the Advanced Writing requirement by helping students improve their writing of expository and persuasive prose through the exploration of good writing models, creative interpretation and analysis of many different kinds. During the semester, we will explore the concept of "nature" through various forms of "texts" including: nature writing, nature poetry, science fiction, popular science and philosophy, music, film, visual arts, as well as actual plants, planets and animals. We will consider various ways in which "nature" and the natural environment have been configured as "books" or "texts." We will learn a variety of ways to "read" and "write" conventional and unconventional "texts." In our two main topical units -- Earthscapes and Cosmic Spaces -- we will wonder: How do human beings use their imaginations, senses of adventure, humor, and creativity to explore and define nature? What is "natural" vs. "unnatural"? What is natural beauty and what does it mean to us? What is the relationship of humanity and the human individual to nature? Does human technology spoil, improve upon or work with nature? Does nature have "rights"?

The course format will be primarily discussion with a few descriptive or informative lectures, a number of videos, musical presentations, art and slide shows and optional field trips.

***Special for Spring 2000: We will have a special guest, Dr. Marc Hairston of UTD's Center for Space Sciences who will join me in team-teaching a unit on environmental / cosmological themes in Japanese animation and comic book novels.



1 - Midterm exam, combination of essay and "objective" type questions (several varieties) 25%

2 - A 5 min. in-class summary of paper project and analytical and interpretative paper (5-7 pp), turned in as "final" (presentation and paper combined, 1/3rd and 2/3rds of total, respectively) 50%

3 - Attendance and participation in discussion ("A and P") 25%

4 - Optional extra credit can be earned to enrich "A and P" portion of grade.


REQUIRED BOOKS (All students must purchase):

Reading the Environment, ed. Melissa Walker. NY: W. W. Norton, 1994 [RE]
(An anthology of writing about nature)

Science and the Human Spirit, ed. Fred. White. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1989 [SHS]
(An anthology of writing about different kinds of scientific investigation of nature. The readings from this will be available as a packet at the bookstore.)

Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, Hayao Miyazaki, San Francisco, CA Viz Communications, 1995.
(Volume 1 of a comic book novel series)

(NOTE: students may write their final paper on Nausicaa or on an approved optional text below.)

SPECIAL NOTE:(November 1999) Miyazaki's newest film Princess Mononoke is currently showing in Dallas at the Inwood Theater and will open November 24th at the Cinemark Legacy in Plano. This film covers many of the themes we will be discussing in class. Miyazaki is also featured prominently in the article Amazing Anime: From Astroboy to Princess Mononoke in the November 22, 1999 issue of Time (the one with Pokemon on the cover).


OPTIONAL TEXTS: These should be available at UTD Bookstore and Off-Campus Books. * = especially recommended "literary" treatments of nature.

*Diane Ackerman, The Moon by Whale Light, NY: Vintage, 1992

*Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams

James Lovell, Apollo 13: Lost Moon, 1995

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1997

Robin Davidson, Tracks

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Jane Goodall, Reason for Hope

Norman Maclean, Young Men and Fire


EXTRA CREDIT/ ENRICHMENT: [Get my approval first]

-- 1-2 pp report on visit to local art gallery, zoological park, botanical park, gardens.

-- 1-2 pp report on nature film, television series

-- 1-2 pp report on nature music

-- 1-2 pp report on your reading of a scientific biography or autobiography

-- 1-2 pp report on an extra "nature" book, magazine, children's book or grade school text

-- other original suggestions considered!


*NOTE: All extra credit reports need to address these two main issues:

1) What did you learn about the definition of "nature" from the activity? IE: how was nature defined?

2) How did the activity/experience relate to our course themes / discussions / readings?


If you have any questions about the course, please email them to Dr. Gossin.