Critical Analysis

Professor: Stephanie Wade
Institution: SUNY Stonybrook
Course Number: SBC 203

Office: The Technology Center
Office Hours: Tuesday, 1:00-2:00, Thursday 1:30-3:30
Email: [email protected]
Office Phone #: 632-5187
Cell Phone #: 631-335-6325

Course Description:
An introduction to interdisciplinary inquiry and representation in arts, culture and theory with emphasis on the roles of analysis, argument, and imagination in multiple media. Requires serious engagement with sophisticated texts concerning the historical relationships between nature and culture.

Rationale: “Many environmental theorists and activists believe that the ecological crisis cannot be effectively addressed through strictly technical measures, because they are intertwined within a crisis of politics and/or of values and worldview. In other words, the ecological crisis is not merely a scientific fact to be solved through ‘technological fixes,’ but it is more importantly a cultural fact: it is conceived, imagined, and discussed through cultural practices, and our responses to the crisis are enabled as well as constrained by our cultural means of imagining and interpreting our relationship to nature.”   – Adrian Ivakhiv

Goals for course:
Rhetorical skills: Understanding methods of persuasion and epistemology in various disciplines will help students develop their analytical abilities and argumentation skills.

Critical and creative thinking skills: Consideration of the relationship between nature and culture will prepare students to engage in contemporary discussions of this topic.

Content knowledge: A historical introduction the discourses of science and the arts will prepare students for interdisciplinary work.

Assignments and grading:

    * Attendance, participation and quizzes: 25 points

    * One paper: 10 points. @ 4-6 pages

You will pick a topic that will allow you to synthesize the readings and connect the readings and the course work with your experience and observations. You may hand this in anytime before April 31st. Papers may be revised.

   * Midterm: I will assign a list of questions for a take-home midterm. 10 points

   * Lesson: 10 points

Before spring break, you will select a reading/song/piece of art for the class to analyze. You will distribute copies to class. During week 14, you will conduct a 15-20 lesson/discussion based upon the selection.

     * Notebook and final project: 60 points

Over the semester, please keep track of your reactions to the course work and your evolving understanding of nature. I suggest a double-sided notebook, where you jot down notes/paste in images in one side and leave the other side for comments that you may add later. This will serve as the basis for you paper and final project. You will need to have at least ten entries in this notebook. 10 points

For the last week of classes, you will create your own statement about nature in a form/medium of your choice and you will present it to the class during week 15. 15 points

It will be accompanied by a two-page reflection. 5 points

    * Final exam: 15 points


    * Attendance is mandatory and absence will lower your grade. When you miss class, not only do you miss lessons, but you also miss in-class writing that contributes to your grade.  If you are absent, please check BLACKBOARD and email me if you have any questions.

Be to class on time. Late students interrupt the class, obstructing both their own and their peers’ education. For grading purposes, I will mark you absent for each two times you are late to class.

Attendance only counts if you are prepared. Therefore, if you come to class without your work, you may be marked absent.  Throughout the semester I will distribute handouts. Keep these, as well as all the writing you do for the class (papers, rewrites, reflections), and readings you get from Blackboard in your writing folder and bring this as well as your homework, reading, paper and a pen/pencil to each class.

Late assignments- will be marked down ½ a grade (A to A-, etc) for each day late, unless you request an extension in advance. If you need an extension for an assignment, discuss it with me before the assignment is due.

Academic Honesty- If I find you have plagiarized another’s work, I will refer the matter to the Academic Judiciary Committee.

Other Class Policies:
1. Discuss your classmates’ work with respect.
2. Challenge opinions, not people.
3. Constructive criticism is the only criticism I find useful.
4. I hope you will carry on the discussion of the course beyond the classroom, but maintain confidence about the ideas expressed by your classmates. I believe that good writing requires honesty and that honesty requires trust.

PLEASE NOTE:  I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO ALTER THIS SYLLABUS. If I do, I will post changes on BLACKBOARD and alert you in class.

Required texts: Available at the Student Center Book Store.
Euripides, The Bacchae
Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing
Joy Harjo, A Map to the Next World
David Lloyd, V for Vendetta

Other texts:
Some readings will be available via Blackboard. Please print these and bring to class.  Some readings are indicated by their web addresses. Please print these.  Sometimes I will post links to websites for you to explore. You need not print these.


Week 1-3 Nature and oral culture: song, poetry, folktales.

Week 1
Tuesday, January 27th
* Introductions.
* In-class reading, maps, in-class writing.

Thursday, January 29th
* J. D. Proctor, “Concepts of nature, environmental/ecological.” (Hand-out) (Explore)
* Hand-out Susan Griffin

Week 2
Tuesday, February 3
* Genesis 1-9 (please print)
* Inanna ( (please print)

Thursday, February 5
* Sappho: print) print)
* Plato: (please print)
* On the Sublime: (please print)
Chapters TBA

Week 3
Tuesday, February 10
* Native American & African American folktales p.52-73 (Handout)

Thursday, February 12
·         Review and take home essay exam

Week 4-5 Nature and visual culture: painting, maps, contemporary art and landscapes

Week 4
Tuesday, February 17
·         Revision workshop

Thursday, February 19 (Maps from the age of exploration)
* Goldman, R., S. Papson, and N. Kersey. 2003. “Landscapes of capital.”  (Explore)
* Finis Dunaway,  (Please print and read) Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings: the Garden of Earthly Delight, Creation of the World, Hell. (Explore) Lakota Winter Counts exhibit at Smithsonian. (Explore) (Read)
* Ruth Howes, “Calendars and Ceremonies:  Native American Astronomy” (Blackboard- please print)

Week 5-10 Nature, visual arts continued, ritual and theater: Greek theater, Native American rituals, contemporary performance art

Week 5
Tuesday, February 24 (possible visit to Shinnecock Museum)
·         Reverand Billy and the church of llife beyond shoppping
·         Eric Wiley. “Wilderness Theater: Environmental Tourism and Cajun Swamp tours.” (Please print)

Thursday, February 26 (possible trip to Parrish or Shinnecock Museum)

Week 6
Tuesday, March 2
* Euripides, The Bacchae.

Thursday, March 4
* Review and take home exam

Week 7
Tuesday, March 10
* Revision workshop

Thursday, March 12-
* Selections from Copernicus, Kelper, Newton, Descartes, Pascal, de Fontenelle. TBA

Week 8-14 nature and written texts: the scientific revolution, slave narratives, the novel

Week 8
Tuesday, March 17
* Selections from Copernicus, Kelper, Newton, Descartes, Pascal, de Fontenelle. TBA

Thursday, March 19

Week 9
Tuesday, March 24
Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapters TBA (Please print)
*  (
* Quaker Journal TBA (

Thursday, March 26
* Henry David Thoreau “Civil Disobedience”  (Please print)
* William Apess TBA

Week #10
Tuesday, March 31
* Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta.

Thursday, April 2
* Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta
* Proposal for project due

Week 11- Spring Break

Week 12
Tuesday, April 14
* Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing.

Thursday April 16
* Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing.

Week 13
Tuesday April 21
* Blackboard, Karl Popper, All Life is Problem Solving (handout)

Thursday, April 23
* Joy Harjo, A Map to the Next World.

Week 14
Tuesday, April 28
* Students pick readings and lead discussion

Thursday, April 30
* Students pick readings and lead discussion

***Friday, April 31: Final deadline for paper #2***

Week #15
Tuesday, May 5- Final project and presentations

Thursday, May 7- Final project and presentations

Finals week:
Final exam

If you have a physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability that may impact your course work, please contact Disability Support Services(631) 632-6748 or  They will determine with you what accommodations are necessary and appropriate.  All information and documentation is confidential.

Students who require assistance during emergency evacuation are encouraged to discuss their needs with their professors and Disability Support Services.  For procedures and information go to the following website:

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY STATEMENT (as approved by the undergrad council):
Each student must pursue his or her academic goals honestly and be personally accountable for all submitted work. Representing another person’s work as your own is always wrong.  Any suspected instance of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Academic Judiciary. For more comprehensive information on academic integrity, including categories of academic dishonesty, please refer to the academic judiciary website at:

Cell Phone and electronic device statement
During regular class sessions, cell phones must be either in ‘vibrate mode’ or turned off.  Calls cannot be answered.

Cell phones must be turned off and enclosed in a case, book bag, briefcase, or the like during tests and exams.  YOU are responsible for ensuring this policy is followed.  Students MAY NOT have cell phones