I am taking an ecofictions course as my senior seminar for the English major this quarter and so far the class has been so valuable. Ecofictions, in a broad sense, are any works of fictional literature that discuss or pertain to the environment or ecology. For the past week or so, since the quarter started, we have been discussing value and how humans place value on nature.
Today our discussion centered around a poem by Margaret Cavendish about a conversation between an oak tree and a man who wants to cut him down. Even though my professor (Professor Cook of the UCSB English Department, my favorite professor EVER) originally planned for us to discuss four different works today, we ended up getting to involved in the discussion of this one poem that it lasted the entirety of the class session. We discussed whether the human is right in cutting down the oak tree, how the oak’s argument fairs, and what the author’s intentions were/whether she sympathizes or advocates in favor of the tree.
As a senior seminar course, there are less than fifteen people in my class. So that means that discussion truly flourishes…and I LOVE that. My favorite courses are discussion-based; they are where I truly feel in my element as a literature student. And this class session today truly made me feel like my voice mattered, my opinion was heard, and I could listen and nod in agreement or disagree with other students in a professional, academic setting. It was fantastic!
I think the subject matter really made this class so enjoyable, as well, because it is so applicable to life. This was one of those days in class where I was able to 100% appreciate literature and how it can teach us different and new ways of thinking about life and how we live. It makes me really proud to be an English major when I can walk away from a class knowing that I am better after.