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Questions

The Chesapeake Bay – Landsat photo

Image via Wikipedia

Focus questions for each journey, relating the reading to the field experiences. Be prepared in each debriefing session to discuss your responses to these questions. In addition to the intersections, you might use these questions to focus your attention in your Stalking.

Journey One

    1. Defining the nature of the Chesapeake: How do Horton’s definitions of what is natural (curves, changelessness, and wildness) compare to what you have encountered in the Semester so far, particularly through the first Journey? Would you add to or revise his definitions based on what you have seen and experienced so far? Be prepared to elaborate in debriefing–might also take this up in your first Stalking.
    2. Imagining the Chesapeake: Both Thoreau and Burroughs emphasize the importance of imagination in understanding nature–Burroughs recall writes of needing to dream ducks in order to see them, Thoreau of sauntering like a pilgrim toward the hold land. In your journey—thinking of a particular place or person you encounter—was the role of imagination in understanding the Chesapeake similarly important? You might think of your Jamestown experience, and compare/contrast with what you see the film “The New World” doing with its imagination of the Chesapeake. On the other hand, you might also consider the ways that the idea of “imagination” is not useful in understanding the Chesapeake, not practical or scientific enough.
    3. Valuing the Bay:  How are the various things in the Bay (including the Bay itself) valued? Why? In what ways are things in the Bay getting moral consideration (if at all)? Why?

Journey Two

  1. Cronon, in “The Trouble with Wilderness,” cites Wendell Berry to argue: the only thing we have to preserve nature with is culture; the only thing to preserve wildness with is domesticity. Cronon and Berry are thus thinking of nature and culture as an intersection, but also something of a paradox. Do you see along this journey examples of the trouble with wilderness that Cronon writes about? Do you see and hear perspectives in which nature (wilderness) and culture (domesticity) are viewed as extremes? Do you see the “middle ground” perspective of the sort that both Berry and Cronon emphasize? Bring back some concrete examples.
  2. Take our initial discussion of valuing and moral consideration into Journey 2: are the values different in Smith or in Ocean City than in Jamestown or Williamsburg? Think of concrete cases to share with us.
Journey 3
  1. As you journey well beyond the Chesapeake watershed–and an American context for environmental seeing, thinking, and writing–consider what’s different: reflect on an example of something in Belize or Guatemala that contrasts with an idea we have explored in the environmental humanities. Also, reflect on something that has similarity, despite the distances involved.
  2. Even though you may not be developing a final project that will focus on Belize, use the time there, well outside the context of the Chesapeake, to consider ways that you might communicate your vision for the project to a larger audience. How would you make a project understandable to someone in Belize?

Journey 4

  1. Recall we read Wendell Berry earlier (his essay “Preserving Wildness” in which he argues that only culture can save nature because only culture can destroy nature). The essays from Berry that we read in Journey 4 (including “Renewing Husbandry” extend his thinking, focusing more directly on his experience as a small-scale farmer–what he refers to as the marginal farm. Based on these additional readings, what are key components in Berry’s vision of healthy or sustainable agriculture? What are the key problems? Have you already seen versions of these solutions and problems in your exploration of Chesapeake farming?
  2. In many ways, Berry’s environmental philosophy, combining culture and agriculture, science and humanities (ethics, aesthetics, love, faith), develops upon the significant example of Aldo Leopold and his notion of a “land ethic.” And you now have the important ethical perspective of Peter Singer to consider. So, with these readings in mind, revisit your initial thinking and develop (Stalking 4) your Chesapeake Ethic. How has it changed?
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