Posts Tagged ‘eco-Marxism’

Topic Proposal: Social ecology and Eco-Marxism in Thoreau’s Walden and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

I want to write about how the social ecological and eco- marxism trope can be seen in “the Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein and in Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.”I am interested in writing about this topic because “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein was the first children’s book that impacted my life in relation to learning how to treat my environment. Despite Thoreau’s “Walden” being a 19th century piece of literature it still relates to our contemporary culture because it addresses issues like exploiting land, how money plays a role in society and proposes a different kind of lifestyle, that of simplicity. Both of these literary piece although intended for different audiences and different time eras, grasp the nature of humankind and address it. In Thoreau’s “Walden” we can see how money plays a big role in society and we see this in the example of when he wants to build home or the reason why he went to live in the woods. Moreover, I want to focus on on how prosperity does not need to be simply monetary but also, living in peace with Nature. That is where Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” comes in because the main character used the Tree his whole life and never returned anything to the Tree. Nature is presented as being innocent and constantly being robbed.

Questions I want to focus on:
1. How is a form of economy presented in “The Giving Tree?” How does this relate to the form of economy presented in Walden?
2. How are eco sociology and eco marxism tropes presented in both “Walden and The Giving Tree?
3. Although “The Giving Tree” was intended for a children’s audience, how does this story appeal to eco critics?
4. In “Thoreau’s “Walden” does he appeal to ethos, pathos, or logos the most? Why?


Group 2’s Third Blog Post

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) in June 1856 (...

Henry David Thoreau in June 1856, Aged 39. Image via Wikipedia

For this blog response, you have a few different writing options. Choose only ONE of these topics to write your response. Be sure to make it clear which question you chose in the subject line of your post. Remember, this blog response is for Group 2 only!

  1. Write an eco-Marxist analysis of Thoreau’s “Economy” chapter in Walden and/or his essay “Walking.” You may want to review Garrard’s brief overview of eco-Marxism in Chapter 2 of Ecocriticism, but what I am looking for is an analysis of how nature and economy function in the text. You do not need to use any technical Marxist/eco-Marxist terms, though you are more that welcome to do so if you have some knowledge of Marxist/eco-Marxist theory. Some questions to consider include: What arguments does Thoreau make about how nature is valued in nineteenth century American capitalism? According to Thoreau, how are humans valued within that system (and does he see humans as part of or distinctly separate from nature)? What solutions (if any) does Thoreau posit to the problems he poses and who are they accessible to? Do you see those solutions as plausible, and why or why not? Do you think that Thoreau’s own class position undermines his arguments or limits the extent to which we could view him as sharing eco-Marxist or social ecologist viewpoints? Why or why not?
  2. Give an analysis of how wilderness functions in Walden and/or “Walking.” Some questions you may want to consider include: How is wilderness represented/valued (for example, as Eden, evil, sacred, pure, threatening, etc)? What are the “politics of wilderness” (Garrard 77) of the text; in other words, how is wilderness a site of gender, class, and/or racial struggle? Who or what is included/excluded in the text’s conception of wilderness?
  3. Find a contemporary newspaper or magazine article that relates to an idea in Walden orWalking.” In your response, explain the connection between the article and Thoreau’s text, making sure to quote from each to showcase the connection. Besides giving a BRIEF summary of the article and thoroughly explaining the connection to Thoreau, be sure to also address the significance of the connection. In other words, what do we gain/learn from connecting Thoreau to this contemporary issue (or, if you prefer, from connecting this contemporary issue back to Thoreau)? You are also required to include a link to the article in your post.
  4. After reading “James Russell Lowell on Henry David Thoreau,” do you agree with Lowell’s assessment of Thoreau? Why or why not? In your response, be sure to quote from Thoreau’s Walden and/or “Walking” to support your answer. (As a reminder, Lowell’s discussion on Thoreau can be found on pgs. 479-482 of the course pack).
  5. After reading the excerpt from “A Critical Glance into Thoreau” by John Burroughs, do you agree with Burroughs’ assessment of Thoreau? Why or why not? In your response, be sure to quote from Thoreau’s Walden and/or “Walking” to support your answer. As a reminder, Burroughs’ discussion on Thoreau can be found on pgs. 487-489 of the course pack. (Note: This reading is not due until the week of October 18th. I accidentally added it to this week’s blog questions because I confused it with Lowell. I am keeping it on this week’s list of options in case anyone already started answering this question for this week. However, if you have not yet started your response, do not choose this one because it requires extra reading.)

Remember, your posts should follow these requirements and guidelines:

  • Posts must be at least 300 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quote from the text. If you are writing about more than one text, then you’ll need at least one quote from each as support. If the question you chose asks for more than one quote in the instructions above, then be sure to follow those instructions.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.
  • Please note that you do not need to answer every “thinking question” I have posted (the questions after the bold directive). These are just options, so you could focus on one or a few. Avoid writing a response that looks like a Q & A or laundry list of answers to these smaller questions; make sure your response flows smoothly and has unity.
  • Your response should make an argument, not summarize the text. If some summary is asked for in the prompt you chose, keep that summary brief and concise.
  • Use specific moments from the text(s) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotes.
  • Don’t forget to tag your posts! Before adding a new tag, check the “choose from the most used tabs” menu to make sure it is not already listed.
  • Don’t forget your Works Cited!

Group 2, your blog response is due by class time on Tuesday, October 11.

Group 1, blog comments are due by class time on Thursday, October 13.