Ecofeminism in Plant’s Bioregionalism, Deep ecology in Thoreau’s Walking, and Emerson’s language chapter in Nature

  1. Why are you interested in this topic? (In other words, you have a lot of freedom to choose a final paper topic, so why did you pick this one? What is interesting about it? What makes it significant?)

I’m interested in analyzing these texts in order to gain a better understanding of the social and ecological implications of a society that values community, and an intrinsic relationship to nature and a specific bioregion. I hope to compare a society that holds these values with our own society today. I will use specific examples from some texts we have read that reflect our own society to create my argument such as The Pioneers, California In-doors and Out, and At Home in the California Wilderness (these texts may change). I find Thoreau and Plant’s texts interesting because they picture a vastly different way of life than our own and can possibly shed light on sustainable ways of living that benefits the planet as well as humanity. I feel this topic is significant because our society needs new ideas to transform our way of life before we deplete the earth of life and sustenance.

  1. What do you already know about this topic? (What do you already know about your analytical focus? How/where do you see this analytical focus at work in your text(s)? What key moments in the text(s) do you want to focus on in your analysis? )

I have been working on my own ideas regarding this topic and hope to learn more from researching this topic as well as incorporate my own ideas. I know that I want to focus on Plant’s Bioregionalism essay with an ecofeminism approach and Thoreau’s Walking text with possibly a deep ecology approach. I would also like to incorporate Emerson’s idea of language into my paper with a focus on bioregionalism. I see ecofeminism at work in Plant’s essay through her idea of focusing on home life rather than the business world, creating equality between men and women, and switching from a market economy to a subsistence economy. A key concept I’d like to focus on is the devaluing of what makes us human in the bioregionalism text and what this does within our society. I will then like to focus on how a transition from the values we hold today to the values of bioregionalism will affect humanity and the earth. I see the deep ecology approach in Thoreau’s Walking through his ideas about wildness as well as his praise of the beauty of nature untainted by civilization. I’d like to focus on Thoreau’s ideas of humanity living with nature and humanity living in civilizations.

  1. List questions that you would like to answer by investigating this topic further (these should literally be questions and they should be numbered).

I would like to answer the following questions:

1. How does a subsistence economy and a market economy affect the environment as well as our communities?

2. What would valuing place in a natural landscape do for the environment and humanity as a whole?

3. What would the social and ecological implications be of valuing communities as well as eliminating the duality between the environment and humanity?

4. Can humanity find a sustainable balance between civilization and nature?

5. What form of subsistence would be ideal for a sustainable way of life?

9 responses to this post.

  1. I think this will make for a really interesting paper, definitely a broad topic so i will be interested to see how you focus it. I think the most interesting question, and possibly unanswerable, is number 4. and maybe a more focused question would be

    6. Do any of the texts you are working with offer an answer or suggestion to this question of balance between civilization and nature?

  2. Posted by bhough on October 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

    While this topic is very broad, I feel like you have a very good starting point. The question of yours that I thought was most interesting was:

    3. What would the social and ecological implications be of valuing communities as well as eliminating the duality between the environment and humanity?

    This made me think about the possibility of any modern day ideas regarding valuing community. Plant’s essays are obviously more modern, but what about any mainstream examples? You could even look into the extreme ideals seen with the Eugenics movement. So, I guess the question would be, are there any more contemporary examples of these values that have possibly gone too far?

  3. Sometimes broad topics like these might lead someone to write all over the place but I just wanted to say good job on narrowing you focus. The Question I find most interesting is your first question. Money, even though it’s a coin or a piece of paper has a huge in impact on our society. It would be nice to read how you elaborate on this issue.

    8. Just to add to your 3rd question I would ask, How does technology affect our environment. The pros and con’s and whether we are headed in a right direction with technological advancement.

  4. Posted by al002 on October 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    This will be a very enlightening essay but I do agree with those who’ve posted before me about it being a very broad topic it will be interesting to see the final product. The question I thought was very interesting was “1. How does a subsistence economy and a market economy affect the environment as well as our communities?” because I feel like this is something that everyone should be trying to answer. Another question to add would be:

    9. Although Plant is a relatively contemporary writer, does modern bioregionalism have more or less ecofeminist influence?

  5. There are certainly a lot of areas to explore with this topic and I think you will have no problem covering six-eight pages on it!! My favorite question you posed is:

    How does a subsistence economy and a market economy affect the environment as well as our communities?

    I think this is a great questions because there are so many real implications that come along with a market economy and the constant need to consume! Another question I might add is:

    Can we be sustainable in nature and still interact with humanity? (this is similar to you 4th question but I’d like to take it from a Thoreau angle… can you be around others without developing an economy that will eventually exploit the land?)

  6. This topic is a very in depth exploration. i especially like your fourth question.
    Another thing to explore would be:
    11) How would you define the separation between nature and civilization? Do they overlap or are they specific barriers?

  7. I think you’ve got a great start on your paper. I found question 1 on the environmental effects of a subsistence economy vs. that of a market economy very intriguing. There are many ways you could go with it for example…

    12.) Bioregionalists assume that s subsistent way of life would be less detrimental to the environment but considering many Indian tribes lived in subsistence with nature and still harmed the environment, is doing without modern living accomadations worth it? or even reasonable?

  8. The most interesting question for me is the fourth one, since I am dealing with a similar topic in my paper. One question I am dealing with that you might want to consider is:
    12. How is conforming to societal values viewed in each text? How does breaking free from or conforming to society affect one’s relationship with the environment?

  9. I’m not quite sure what the topic of this paper is because there are so many different critical lenses (ecofeminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism, economics, language, pastoral) and texts (Plant, Thoreau, Emerson, The Pioneers, California In-doors and Out, and At Home in the California Wilderness). You need to narrow this to one critical lens and 1-2 texts. See the handout for the final paper assignment for more info.

    Looking at your research questions, they are all questions that “go large.” They are the significance questions that ask “So what?” or “What’s at stake?” which are needed in a strong, A-level paper. However, none of these questions ask anything of a text, and the primary scope of this paper is a textual analysis. Once you give a lengthy textual analysis, then you can spend a paragraph or two (or three) addressing these larger questions, but it shouldn’t be the main focus.

    Overall, you have lots of great ideas to work with here. The trick will be to pick one!

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