Women and Nature

Professor: Lorraine Anderson
Institution: UC Davis Experimental College
Course Number: n/a

Required Texts:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Sisters of the Earth, edited by Lorraine Anderson
The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant, or Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

Course Schedule

Session 1-April 22- Introduction

We introduce ourselves, go over course objectives and outline, and define basic terms. Read aloud “A Woman’s Land” by Sallie Bingham and “A Woman Is Not a Potted Plant” by Alice Walker to illustrate general objectives of course and set tone for future discussions.

Session 2-April 29- Images of Woman/Images of Earth

Read for class: The Awakening by Kate Chopin; handouts from The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler and The Death of Nature by Carolyn Merchant; “The Hunt” and “Use” by Susan Griffin, pages 282-286 in Sisters of the Earth.

We examine various historical and modern images of womanhood and of nature and how these relate to our perceptions and expectations of women and nature.

Session 3-May 6 – The Woman-Nature Connection

Read for class: “Prologue” by Susan Griffin, pages 4-5 in Sisters, and “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, pages 13-24 in Sisters; handouts from Rape of the Wild by Andree Collard, The Death of Nature by Carolyn Merchant, and The Great Cosmic Mother by Barbara Mor; “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” by Sherry Ortner.

We explore the historical and contemporary relationship between woman and nature. Is the close association of women and nature real or mythical? What is culture? What is nature?

Session 4-May 13- Women’s Status, Overpopulation, and Loss of Species Diversity

Read for class: Handouts from Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich andThe Population Explosion by Paul Ehrlich.

We look at the motherhood mandate and how educational and employment opportunities for women affect the birth rate. We inquire into the roots of ecological problems in overpopulation. We discuss the idea of voluntary childlessness.

Session 5-May 20- Ecofeminism

Read for class: Handouts “The Feminism of Ecology and the Ecology of Feminism” by Ynestra King and “Ecofeminism: Our Roots and Flowering” by Charlene Spretnak.

We explore the links between feminism, ecology, and politics.

Session 6-May 27- Nature as Healer and Teacher

Read for class: Nancy Wood poems, “The Ancient People” by Willa Cather, and “The Bowl” by Terry Tempest Williams, in Sisters; handouts from Nature as Healer and Teacher by James Swan and Woman: Earth and Spirit by Helen Luke.

We discuss how we can establish a relationship with nature that nurtures our bodies and souls in the midst of an earth-alienated culture.

Session 7-June 3- Healing the Earth

Readings: Selections from ”Healing Her” in Sisters; Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees.

We inquire into simple ways that we can begin immediately to contribute to the healing of the earth.

Session 8-June 10- Possible Futures

Read for class: Either The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant or Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

We weave visions of the way life could look in a culture attuned to nature. What would women’s roles look like? What would men’s roles look like?

Copyright © 1996. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form, without written permission from its author(s). This document has been edited for electronic publication and does not appear in its original form.