Oakley Cabin photo by Carol Joan Haney McVey
A Proposal for Ecorhetoric in College English 101
Ecorhetoric: Progressive Learning About Composition Environments (PLACE)
by Carol Joan Haney McVey
Need some ammo to fight the combat fatigue in English 101? If your fire-and-brimstone sermon on the preordained destiny of the comma is putting students in a coma, this could be the site for you to investigate. Imagine inspiring students to write proposals for building solar-powered greenhouses or planetariums atop campus buildings or urban dwelling organic gardens in a project involving academic writing, horticulture, environmental and geographical science, architecture, and engineering. Or, perhaps students will write proposals for a podcast, multimodal website, or a stage production of classic dog stories in collaboration with the university theatre department and local animal shelter and/or habitat for humanity project. If literary criticism is you where you live and breath, just one cloud above the ozone, then a literary magazine published on recycled paper could be the cure for the genius hermit in your class who desperately craves a forum for the holy hermeneutic of creative expression.
What: A Philosophical and Pedagogical Heuristic for Ecorhetoric in Freshman College Composition. This proposal offers an opportunity to explore the possibilities for themed English 101 classes using an approach that employs interdisciplinarity, multimodalality, and ecorhetoric in composition studies. Ecorhetoric refers to ecocomposition, ecocriticism, and ecofeminism as well as other ecological and nature-based writing and literary perspectives. The website address is the teacherplace.us (PLACE refers to Progressive Learning about Composition and Environment)
Who: The proposal engages teachers and post-graduate student teachers and academic administration in a heuristic to explore the topic of linking ecological writing or “nature writing” and “place-based learning” to academic and professional writing in the English 101 classroom.
Where: The proposal emerged as a result of interactions, readings, lectures, and experiences with graduate studies in English and education at The University of Maryland.
When: The site is under construction. The November 2014 NCTE conference celebrated “The Landscape of Knowing” as an organizing theme. This site, as a forum for ongoing development, will serve to assist teachers and student teachers of English 101; composition, academic, and professional writing teachers and tutors; and any other individual or group interested in the topic of using ecological and place-pased writing to connect the experience of English composition with learning about the environment.
Why: A 2011 NCTE English Journal dedicated an issue to ecorhetoric using a “greening of the curriculum” theme; this proposal aims to follow-up on that issue and other academic reconaissance missions through research in pedagogical, scholarly, and academic journals, conferences, lectures, mainstream media and classroom discourse. The 2014 theme of NCTE as “the landscape of knowing” encourages visitors to go to the teacher place of knowing in the mind and experience and explore new ways to grow as students learn to assume stewardship of environments in the physical, metaphysical, and metacognitive realm.
How: The plan for this project involves offering a philosophical and pedagogical basis for this inquiry by investigating three subtopics of ecorhetoric: ecocomposition, ecocriticism, and ecofeminism. An argument of inquiry for ecological and place-based learning introduces the purpose and project of this site. Future postings aim to provide specific examples of lesson plans; classroom and research activities; annotated bibliographies; and perhaps, an interactive forum for discussion and sharing of teaching ideas.