Faculty Profile

Ash Nichols

Professor of English and Environmental Studies; Walter E. Beach '56 Distinguished Chair in Sustainability Studies (1988)

Contact Information

nicholsa@dickinson.edu

Kaufman Building-192
717.245.1660
http://users.dickinson.edu/~nicholsa/

Bio

His fields include 19th- and 20th-century British literature and contemporary ecocriticism, with emphasis on Romantic poetry and American nature writing. He also teaches courses in nature writing. His current research focuses on Romantic natural history, 1750-1850 and urbanatural roosting.

Education

  • B.A., University of Virginia, 1975
  • M.A., 1979
  • Ph.D., 1984

2014-2015 Academic Year

Fall 2014

ENGL 101 Environment, Culture & Values
Cross-listed with ENST 111-01. Perhaps no genre of literature is as uniquely American as American nature writing. No genre can tell us as much about our environment, environmental culture, and the values that derive from and depend upon our natural environment. We will also work to define "nature" and to understand the complex connections between humans and the nonhuman environment they inhabit. Our guides will be Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, and others. The course will be a study of metaphor, poetic and prose styles, and the link between literary and naturalistic observation. Our texts will be literary; our contexts will be environmental, cultural, and ethically ecological. Are humans a part of the natural environment? Do we see ourselves as distinct from nature? Is our environment beautiful and benign (sunsets, daffodils, puffins) or ugly and destructive (hurricanes, cancer, death)? We will examine the current importance (as well as the controversial aspects) of evolutionary ideas, and we will emphasize the role played by literature in the development of our own environmental assumptions and values. Two essays and a final exam.

ENST 111 Environment, Culture & Values
Cross-listed with ENGL 101-04.

WRPG 211 Writing About Nature
Cross-listed with ENGL 212-04. This course is designed to improve your skills as a writer of expository prose by emphasizing the genre of nature writing. We will concentrate on a variety of writing problems and techniques, emphasizing specific skills necessary to a wide range of writing tasks: description, summary, narration, argumentation, analysis, and interpretation. In all cases, our focus will be on the natural world and human connections to that world. Discussions of essay reading assignments will be supplemented by workshop sessions and individual tutorials. Students will have the opportunity to critique work by their classmates and to compare their own essays to works by nature writers of the past two centuries. The course aims to concentrate your attention on the precise stylistic details that lead to effective writing.

ENGL 212 Writing About Nature
Cross-listed with WRPG 211-04. This course is designed to improve your skills as a writer of expository prose by emphasizing the genre of nature writing. We will concentrate on a variety of writing problems and techniques, emphasizing specific skills necessary to a wide range of writing tasks: description, summary, narration, argumentation, analysis, and interpretation. In all cases, our focus will be on the natural world and human connections to that world. Discussions of essay reading assignments will be supplemented by workshop sessions and individual tutorials. Students will have the opportunity to critique work by their classmates and to compare their own essays to works by nature writers of the past two centuries. The course aims to concentrate your attention on the precise stylistic details that lead to effective writing.

Spring 2015

WRPG 211 Writing About Nature
Cross-listed with ENGL 212-03. This course is designed to improve your skills as a writer of expository prose by emphasizing the genre of nature writing. We will concentrate on a variety of writing problems and techniques, emphasizing specific skills necessary to a wide range of writing tasks: description, summary, narration, argumentation, analysis, and interpretation. In all cases, our focus will be on the natural world and human connections to that world. Discussions of essay reading assignments will be supplemented by workshop sessions and individual tutorials. Students will have the opportunity to critique work by their classmates and to compare their own essays to works by nature writers of the past two centuries. The course aims to concentrate your attention on the precise stylistic details that lead to effective writing.

ENGL 212 Writing About Nature
Cross-listed with WRPG 211-03. This course is designed to improve your skills as a writer of expository prose by emphasizing the genre of nature writing. We will concentrate on a variety of writing problems and techniques, emphasizing specific skills necessary to a wide range of writing tasks: description, summary, narration, argumentation, analysis, and interpretation. In all cases, our focus will be on the natural world and human connections to that world. Discussions of essay reading assignments will be supplemented by workshop sessions and individual tutorials. Students will have the opportunity to critique work by their classmates and to compare their own essays to works by nature writers of the past two centuries. The course aims to concentrate your attention on the precise stylistic details that lead to effective writing.

ENGL 220 Crit Approaches & Lit Methods
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.