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Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

ENGL 360: Readings In Fiction

Course Description

Study of fiction, possibly from a special perspective or within a literary period (e.g., American novel and short story, contemporary novel, the comic novel and short story)

Prerequisite: ENGL 112 and a previous 200-level or higher English course

Proctored Exams: Final

Syllabus Contents



  • Merchant, . Radical Ecology. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2005.
    • ISBN-978-0-415-93578-4
  • Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang. Harper Perennial, 2000.
    • ISBN-978-0-06-112976-6
  • Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time. Fawcett, 1976.
    • ISBN-978-0-449-21082-6
  • Callenbach, Ernest. Ecotopia Emerging. Banyan Tree Books, 1981.
    • ISBN-978-0-9604320-3-5
  • Quinn, Daniel. Ishmael. Bantam Books, 1992.
    • ISBN-978-0-553-37540-4
  • Starhawk. The Fifth Sacred Thing. Bantam Books, 1993.
    • ISBN-978-0-553-37380-6
  • Silko, Leslie Marmon. Gardens in the Dunes. Scribner's, 1999.
    • ISBN-978-0-684-86332-0


In addition, each student should have available one of the following films for a class project (note that purchase is not necessary if the film is otherwise available through local rental, Netflix, Amazon Streaming, etc.):
  • Silent Running (1972)
  • Soylent Green (1973)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • Dersu Uzala (1975)
  • China Syndrome (1979)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Never Cry Wolf (1983)
  • Silkwood (1983)
  • The Burning Season (1994)
  • Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  • Instinct (1999)
  • Erin Brockovich (2000)
  • Whale Rider (2002)
  • The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
  • Wall-E (2008)
  • Avatar (2009)
  • Snowpiercer (2013)
See the Content area of the course for accessibility information for each film.  If there is some exceptional difficulty with film access, this project may be replaced with a parallel project on an extra novel, at the instructor’s discretion.  Contact the instructor if you will find it impossible to view one of these films.

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit

Course Overview

This course focuses on the study of specific types of contemporary novels, those which dramatize the problems of our ongoing ecological crisis, and which often pose utopian solutions to these problems. We will examine the themes and techniques, as well as some of the unique problems and possibilities of environmental fiction. In order to do this in more depth, we will also survey the basic ideas of several current environmental philosophies and ethical systems. Much of this involves what any literature class does, which is reading a shared group of books and talking about our impressions and ideas. We will also use different styles and types of writing to stretch ourselves and our understanding of this literature, which deals with what seems likely to be the most significant global issue of the 21st Century.

Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze a range of fictional texts.
  2. Explain the characteristics of the fictional genre, as those characteristics appear in selected fiction.
  3. Identify the historical, cultural, and authorial contexts of selected fiction.
  4. Describe the critical reception of selected fiction.
  5. Write argumentatively about fiction.


Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 810-900 90-100%
B 720-809 80-89%
C 630-719 70-79%
D 540-629 60-69%
F 0-539 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 200 22%
Essays 500 56%
Final Exam 200 22%
Total 900 100%

Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Introduction - Sunday
Discussion 1: The Monkey Wrench Gang 10
Discussion 2: Radical Ecology 10
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3: The Monkey Wrench Gang 10 Sunday
Discussion 4: Radical Ecology 10
Discussion 5: Ecotopia Emerging 10
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6: Ecotopia Emerging 10 Sunday
Discussion 7: Radical Ecology 10
Discussion 8: Ishmael 10
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9: Ishmael 10 Sunday
Discussion 10: Radical Ecology 10
Discussion 11: Woman on the Edge of Time 10
Essay 1 200 Saturday
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 12: Woman on the Edge of Time 10 Sunday
Discussion 13: Radical Ecology 10
Discussion 14: The Fifth Sacred Thing 10
Film Project 100 Saturday
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15: The Fifth Sacred Thing 10 Sunday
Discussion 16: Radical Ecology 10
Film Project 0
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 17: The Fifth Sacred Thing 10 Sunday
Discussion 18: Gardens in the Dunes 10
Discussion 19: Radical Ecology 10
Essay 2 200 Saturday
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 20: Gardens in the Dunes 10 Sunday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points 900

Assignment Overview


There will be a list of questions each week to prompt discussion of the readings.  I do not expect everyone to answer all of them.  These are intended to help guide the class to what is most important in the readings.   You are expected to make at least two postings per topic each week -- one original response to the question/discussion prompt and one response to a classmate. 


Essay 1 will discuss issues and techniques in the novels. I will post a list of more specific topics in the News announcements the week before the paper is due—usually on Friday. The essay should be 4-6 pages long—that is, approximately 1000-1500 words. Sources should be documented should be documented using current MLA. The Columbia College Academic Resources and Writing Center webpages offer documentation guidelines; there are links in the course environment to these resources. Be sure what you submit to the Dropbox has a .doc or .docx or .rtf extension and has your name somewhere in the file title. Due Saturday Week 4.

Essay 2 should be a research investigation of one of the novels we have read or are completing (that is, any of the course books except Radical Ecology, which is not a novel). The essay should be 4-6 pages long—that is, approximately 1000-1500 words. Sources (a minimum of 3 peer-reviewed) should be documented using current MLA. The Columbia College Academic Resources and Writing Center webpages offer documentation guidelines; there are links in the course environment to these resources. Be sure what you submit to the Dropbox has a .doc or .docx or .rtf extension and has your name somewhere in the file title. Due Saturday Week 7.

For the Film Project, each of you should pick one of the course films to analyze in terms of its environmental content or message. Sometimes this message will be very direct, indeed, the main point of the film. In other cases, you will need to look more carefully at the overall situation, the setting, or perhaps the beliefs of the characters. There will be a Discussion forum in which to post your film choice and initial ideas (Week 2), another in which to share your early analysis (Week 4), and finally, one in which you should post a copy of your final paper (Week 6) for others to read, in addition to having put it in the Dropbox for me to grade—due midnight Saturday of Week 5. The paper should begin with a brief summary/description of the film, then go on to discuss it in terms of environmental ideas. This paper should be in the range of 3-4 pages, about 800-1000 words.

Final Exam

Students will have a 2-hour proctored final that stresses familiarity with the novels in the course.  Each student must arrange an acceptable proctor and submit his or her proctor information to the Proctor Dropbox by the end of Week

The exam will provide a selection of passages from the readings, and students will be asked to select and write on five of the passages, identifying the author, title of the work, what is going on in the passage, and then, most importantly, what is significant about the passage for the whole work (such as major theme, key idea, turning point in the plot, moment of moral decision, demonstration of a specific philosophy central to the book, etc.).  See more information about proctored exams in the Course Policies section below.

Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1:
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang, Chapters 1-19
  • Radical Ecology, Chapter 1, and pp. 165-68
Please introduce yourself—who you are, where you are, perhaps something about your work or your major, hobbies, family, pets, etc.  Tell us what your main concerns are about the environment.  You might want to comment on America’s role in environmental concerns.
Discussion 1: The Monkey Wrench Gang
  1. Read the Week 1 Overview in the Content area, and define “didacticism” in your own words. How might didacticism be present in environmental novels? How might it influence character and plot?
  2. Describe 2 of the 4 main characters. What stands out? What attitudes do they have?
  3. Find out more about Lake Powell or the Glen Canyon Dam.
  4. React to the 2nd paragraph in Chapter 2, with its picture of Tucson.
  5. Note one or two examples of botanical knowledge that crops up in the book. How do these specifics work in the book?
  6. How is the Park Service seen in this book? (there’s one example late in Chapter 3). Is this view justified? (You might look at the Park Service’s formal mission statement.)
  7. React to Doc’s rant about strip mines in Chapter 4.
  8. What is important about the river trip in Chapter 5?
  9. Trace and evaluate Doc’s rant in Chapter 5, about the “technological juggernaut” and “planetary industrialism.”
  10. React to the rather explicit “how-to” instructions, in Chapter 6 or 14.
  11. React to Hayduke’s vision, near the end of Chapter 7, of “when the cities are gone.”
  12. React to the episode with the bulldozers, Chapter 8, or the oil rig, Chapter 11, or the coal train, Chapter 14.
  13. Find out more about Peabody Coal Company and its history, or some of the corporate links mentioned in Chapter 12.
  14. Discuss what Doc thinks about the purpose of the power plant, in Chapter 12. Find out more about the amount of electricity the U. S. uses just for air conditioning.
  15. Abbey is punning on himself when he mentions the book, Desert Solipsism. Find out more about his actual book, Desert Solitaire.
  16. From Chapter 17—find out more about logging and roads in National Forests.
Discussion 2: Radical Ecology
  1. What is the Kyoto Protocol?
  2. From pp. 18-19—which of these global warming effects might most immediately affect you?
  3. Find out more about a specific ocean or forest problem mentioned in the book.
  4. Discuss various approaches to the population problem. Where do you stand?
  5. Describe today’s “global capitalist system.”
  6. Comment on the idea of “natural capitalism.”
  7. What does Herman Daly propose?
  8. Find out more about one organization in the Group of Ten (pp. 165-8).
Week 2:
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang, Chapters 20-end
  • Radical Ecology, Chapter 3 and pp. 169-70, 176-89
  • Ecotopia Emerging, pp. 1-169
Discussion 3: The Monkey Wrench Gang
  1. Describe and respond to Smith’s bad dream in Chapter 21.
  2. Comment on Bishop Love and his posse.
  3. What does Smith mean when he says of the Highway Dept., that “their religion is building roads”? (Chapter 26)
  4. What does Smith mean in Chapter 28 when he says agriculture was “a big step backwards”?
  5. Comment on Smith as “a true autochthonic patriot,” and his sense of allegiance in Chapter 29.
  6. Respond to the big chase, and the epilogue.
  7. Evaluate this novel—what works? what doesn’t? How well does the novel balance plot, character and didactic intent?
Discussion 4: Radical Ecology
  1. Describe egocentric ethics.
  2. Describe the picture of ‘mechanism’ (p. 70). Does this fit your picture of the world?
  3. Describe homocentric ethics.
  4. What is environmental stewardship?
  5. Find out more about the Hetch Hetchy dam controversy.
  6. Describe ecocentric ethics.
  7. Find out more about Aldo Leopold. Comment on his “land ethic.”
  8. Discuss the assumptions of holism (p. 70). [Recall all this when we get to 40 Signs of Rain.]
  9. Describe multicultural or parternership ethics.
  10. What is panentheism? (p.86)
  11. Who are the Greens? What differences exist within this movement?
  12. What is Earth First!? Find out more about their activities….their alleged activities…
  13. What is Greenpeace? Find out more about its ‘Save the Whales’ campaign, or about the Rainbow Warrior.
  14. Find out more about one of the groups mentioned on p. 188.
  15. Find out more about the toxics we live with everyday.
  16. What is the WTO? why is it protested? by whom?
Discussion 5: Ecotopia Emerging
  1. Describe Lou or Vera. What motivates these women?
  2. Respond to one of the first three italicized sections (pp. 5-6 or 9-11 or 15-17). What is their purpose in this novel?
  3. Find out more about water quality and fishing in a river near you.
  4. Discuss the bioregional concepts on p. 23 or 82.
  5. Respond to the “shared vision” of Vera’s political group, and their “No More” list.
  6. Compare the vision of America on pp. 42-4 to our reality.
  7. What does Lou want to do with her solar cell? What is difficult about this?
  8. Comment on the basic trade-off of the Munton report, of economy vs. health.
  9. Respond to Vera’s statement that “Energy self-reliance will bring us peace—and freedom from creeping militarization” (p. 56).
  10. Respond to one of the citizens’ actions, in Berkeley (p. 62) or with the chemical company (p. 92). How does this contrast with Otto’s views of Americans (pp. 71-2)?
  11. Comment on the key ideas in one of Vera’s speeches, from pp. 88, or 112, or 119.
  12. What is Ben up to?
  13. Find out more about “factory farms,” such as the pig farms in Missouri and North Carolina, or the chicken and turkey farms in Missouri and Arkansas. (see p. 158)
  14. What does the book have to say about cars? (see, for instance, p. 77, or 149).
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3:
  • Ecotopia Emerging, pp. 170-end
  • Radical Ecology, Chapter 4, 6, and pp. 223-6
  • Ishmael, part 1-7
Discussion 6: Ecotopia Emerging
  1. Comment on the chemical company report, p. 172.
  2. What is Ralph Burns figuring out?
  3. What key ideas come out in Vera’s speech, pp. 179-82?
  4. What innovations does MiniWind make?
  5. Respond to the attack on the garden party, or the attack on Omni Oil.
  6. Find out more about “free bike” plans in various cities. (see p. 225)
  7. Discuss one of the minor characters we haven’t dealt with. Are these many characters useful in the book, or are they a distraction?
  8. Examine the horse vs. car math (p. 254). If you know Walden, bring in the walking vs. train math from that book.
  9. How are personal, family and community relationships changed in this book? What aspects of this are central to the book’s ecological message?
  10. Describe the Bolinas Declaration of Independence and the response to it.
  11. Comment on the creation of the new country, Ecotopia.
  12. Evaluate Ecotopia Emerging. What works? How successful is the balance of story and didacticism?
Discussion 7: Radical Ecology
  1. Briefly sketch out what Deep Ecology is.
  2. Describe the self as proposed by Deep Ecology. What do you feel about this?
  3. Find out more about St. Francis, or Gary Snyder, or Black Elk.
  4. What does Fritj of Capra contribute here?
  5. Describe various scientific roots of Deep Ecology (pp. 99+).
  6. What is the Gaia hypothesis?
  7. Find out more about James Lovelock and his current views.
  8. What does Deep Ecology take from Eastern philosophy?
  9. Respond to ideas about “reconstructive science.”
  10. Describe progressive ecology.
  11. Discuss the Marx/Engels view of ecology.
  12. What does Murray Bookchin advocate?
  13. Find one or more examples of ecological disaster under state socialism (the USSR, communist Romania, China, etc.).
  14. Comment on the idea of science as “socially constructed” (p. 157).
Discussion 8: Ishmael
  1. Describe the setup of the novel—the narrator and his quest, Ishmael, and his history.
  2. Comment on the sign on p. 9, “With Man Gone…”
  3. What does Ishmael mean when he says his theme is captivity?
  4. What is Mother Culture? How does it work?
  5. Define Takers and Leavers.
  6. What is the Taker creation story?
  7. What is Ishmael’s point in his jellyfish parable?
  8. Evaluate the Taker notion that “The world was made for man, and man was made to rule it” (p. 72).
  9. In Chapter 5, what problems do we find with human mastery of the world?
  10. React to the idea of a natural law that says “species that live in compliance with the law live” and others who don’t go extinct (pp. 103-4).
  11. Discuss the “flying over the edge” analogy (p. 105+).
  12. Find out more about Thomas Malthus.
  13. Ishmael is distinctly didactic. Is it succeeding as a novel at this point? What happens to plot and character?
Week 4:
  • Ishmael, part 8-end
  • Radical Ecology, Chapter 8 and pp. 170-76
  • Woman on the Edge of Time, Chapters 1-9
Discussion 9: Ishmael
  1. Describe, from Chapter 8, the 4 things Takers are said to do.
  2. Comment on the notion of “holy work” in Taker culture (p. 132).
  3. Describe the paradox of food supply and human population (p. 136).
  4. Find out more about Garrett Hardin and his 2 famous essays.
  5. Comment on Ishmael’s conclusion that “Mother Culture must be finished off if you’re going to survive” (p. 144).
  6. Comment on what Ishmael says are features of an advanced culture (p. 146). [If you have access to Rollo May’s Cry for Myth, bring in some of his ideas.]
  7. How does Ishmael frame the Takers’ appropriation of the knowledge of the gods? (pp. 156-68).
  8. Discuss how Ishmael reinterprets the Fall (pp. 169-84).
  9. What is the heritage of the Leavers? (pp. 200-7).
  10. Read/watch The Elder Brother Speaks—A Message from the Heart of the World (access this video in the Week 4 Overview in the Content area). Comment on its message.
  11. Examine the Taker reaction to “primitive life” or the comment that Leavers are the “most leisured people on earth.” (pp. 219-20)
  12. What is, finally, the Taker relationship to the gods/god?
  13. Respond to the idea that the Takers (well, us) “have put an end to creation itself” (p. 239).
  14. Respond to the sign again, what it says on the back.
  15. How successful is Ishmael as a novel? What are its weaknesses? Strengths?
Discussion 10: Radical Ecology
  1. Sketch out the basic ideas of ecofeminism.
  2. Find out more about Ynestra King or Irene Diamond.
  3. Why do some object to closely linking women to nature?
  4. Discuss cultural ecofeminism in more detail.
  5. Find out more about Lois Gibbs and Love Canal.
  6. Comment on the paragraph on p. 210 that begins, “Green socialist feminist Mary Mellor…”
  7. Comment on the list of development projects at the end of the first paragraph on p. 213. How does this challenge our usual notions of progress?
  8. Find out more about Vandana Shiva, or Chipko, or the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya.
  9. Discuss environmental justice activities.
  10. Respond to Table 7.1.
Discussion 11: Woman on the Edge of Time
  1. Describe Connie’s life and family at the start of the novel.
  2. Describe Connie’s encounters with the medical and social work establishment.
  3. What experiment was performed on Claud? Find out more about the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments.
  4. Find out more about hysterectomies performed on minority women in the U. S. without their consent.
  5. Find out more about the film/book, War against the Weak (see the Week 4 Overview in the Content area).
  6. What is “the Age of Greed and Waste”? (chapter 2)
  7. Identify several examples of Luciente’s slang.
  8. How is “madness” seen in Luciente’s world? How is this different from Connie’s world?
  9. Describe Connie’s first encounters in Luciente’s world.
  10. What does “ownfed” mean?
  11. Find out more about electric shock therapy.
  12. Describe Sybil or Skip.
  13. Find out more about Washoe [or Koko], and examine the material on Project Nim (reference the Week 4 Overview in the Content area). What does this suggest about our relations to non-human creatures?
  14. Comment on the brooder and the 3-mom system.
  15. Examine this future’s efforts to destroy racism (Chapter 5).
  16. Explain Innocente’s naming ritual and what follows.
  17. Discuss the “primitive” societies used as models in Luciente’s time. What would this connect with in Ishmael?
  18. Describe the attitudes to work, study and play in Luciente’s time.
  19. Talk about Barbarossa’s breasts.
  20. What has Connie decided in the last paragraph of Chapter 7, when she assents?
  21. Describe government in Luciente’s time (Chapter 8).
  22. Comment on Sappho’s dying.
  23. React to the holographic show about extinctions, in Chapter 9. How does this match our situation today?
  24. This novel makes very distinct use of ecofeminists ideas. What connections do you find?
Essay 1
Essay 1 will be a discussion of issues and techniques in our first two novels.  I will post a list of more specific topics in the announcements the week before the paper is due.  Due by midnight, Saturday.  Please put the paper in the dropbox set up for Essay 1. 
Week 5:
  • Woman on the Edge of Time, Chapters 10-end
  • Radical Ecology, pp. 231-46
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing, Chapters 1-8
Discussion 12: Woman on the Edge of Time
  1. How are the ideas in Chapter 10 about “the need to struggle” and revolution key to the book?
  2. What do the doctors want to do to Connie and the other patients?
  3. How are social tensions and crimes handled in Luciente’s time?
  4. Describe Connie’s experiences during her escape, and Luciente’s visit.
  5. How does Luciente’s community deal with new technologies? (Chapter 14)
  6. Chapter 15 is a brief, self-contained satire, an inversion of Luciente’s world, and a critique of trends in our world. What are some of the main features?
  7. Describe Jackrabbit’s wake.
  8. How does sex and sexuality fit as part of Luciente’s community? vs. Connie’s world?
  9. Evaluate Connie’s decision to go to “war.”
  10. Give your final evaluation of this novel.
Discussion 13: Radical Ecology
  1. Describe sustainable development. Connect this to one or more of our novels.
  2. Where do we see “restorative ecology” in our novels?
  3. What is bioregionalism?
  4. Take the Bioregional Quiz (Table 9.2) and discuss your results.
  5. Why are many indigenous peoples connected with sustainability? Link this back to Ishmael.
Discussion 14: The Fifth Sacred Thing
  1. Describe Maya and Madrone.
  2. Sketch out some of the religious influences we see in Chapter 1. Why are they here?
  3. What is ch’i? How is it used here?
  4. Describe this future San Francisco ecologically and socially. What prime values does this city hold?
  5. Respond to the founding story of the 4 old women in the street.
  6. Describe Bird and his situation when we meet him.
  7. Respond to the Millennialist Creed, p. 29.
  8. Comment on the Council meeting in Chapter 3.
  9. What seems to be the state of the wider world? (bits on p. 51 and 103)
  10. What is the Defense Council?
  11. How do kids learn in this book?
  12. Respond to Madrone’s healing work, or to Maya’s conversations with ghosts.
  13. Describe the situation and activities of “the Monsters.” Comment on the ritual they perform. (Chapter 6)
  14. Find out more about the name Rhea.
  15. Talk about how one or more of these fits into the vision of this book: food, water, sex, diverse languages.
Film Project
This paper should be an analysis of your chosen film. Due by midnight, Saturday, Week 5. Please put the paper in the Dropbox set up for this project, and in the Discussion topic in Week 6, to share with others.
Week 6:
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing, Chapters 9-24
  • Radical Ecology, Chapter 5
Discussion 15: The Fifth Sacred Thing
  1. React to Lily’s account of war, magic and consciousness (Chapter 10).
  2. Discuss Maya’s Vietnam story (pp. 161+).
  3. Try to describe Maya’s extended family lines. (Who is related to whom?)
  4. Changes in family, sexuality and community are key to this novel. How are these extensions of Starhawk’s environmental vision?
  5. Why is it important for Madrone to keep telling the story of her city to the Hill people and in the South?
  6. Discuss Maya’s visit with Elijah (Chapter 15).
  7. What is the Melissa?
  8. Chapter 17—discuss the Council meeting and the crucial decisions the community reaches.
  9. Find out more about Gandhi, King, and non-violent resistance.
  10. What does Madrone accomplish in her unplanned visit with Sara?
  11. Chapter 21—describe what happened to make Los Angeles become Angel City.
  12. Describe the early days of the invasion.
Discussion 16: Radical Ecology
  1. Describe the “Council of All Beings.” Where do we encounter this in our novels?
  2. Comment on Macy’s 5 Principles (p. 119).
  3. Comment on the phrase “our generation’s crimes against the future” (p. 119).
  4. Find out more about neo-pagans or wicca.
  5. Find out more about Marija Gimbutas or Riane Eisler.
  6. Find out more about the environmental stance of one of the mainstream religions. If you attend a church regularly, comment on how much an environmental message is expressed there.
  7. Explain process theology.
  8. Find out more about Lynn White’s groundbreaking article—“On the Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.”
  9. Should a religious sensibility be part of environmental efforts?
Film Project
Please put a copy of your film project paper in this discussion and read and comment on what others have to say.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7:
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing, Chapters 25-end
  • Gardens in the Dunes, Parts 1-6
  • Radical Ecology, Chapter 2
Discussion 17: The Fifth Sacred Thing
  1. React to Bird’s “cooperation” with the army. What clever things does he say?
  2. React to Madrone’s episode in the ocean.
  3. Chapter 31—discuss the strategy of haunting.
  4. Discuss Madrone’s talks with Ohnine.
  5. Describe two key plot incidents in this section of reading.
  6. Who is the hero of this book?
  7. The Fifth Sacred Thing is our least didactic book so far. How well does it balance character, plot and message?
  8. What vision does Starhawk offer us? What do you think of it?
Discussion 18: Gardens in the Dunes
  1. Describe one of the Sand Lizard characters—Sister Salt, Indigo or Grandma Fleet.
  2. What is the situation of the Sand Lizard tribe when we meet them?
  3. What relation to the land/seeds does Grandma teach?
  4. Find out more about Wovoka and the native dances he inspired.
  5. Describe Indigo’s experience at the Sherman Institute or, later, the methods of the Parker
  6. Indian School (find info on mission schools in the Week 7 Overview in the Content area).
  7. Who is Hattie? Describe her background and her education.
  8. If you know the Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” compare this to the advice given by Hattie’s doctor.
  9. Comment on Edward’s work and ambitions.
  10. Find out more about Henry Wickham (find info on bio-piracy in the Week 7 Overview in the Content area).
  11. Teddy Roosevelt is invoked in Part 3. Find out more about his own expedition to Brazil.
  12. Describe the gardens that Susan has “installed.” What view of nature does she represent?
  13. Find out more about early canal and water projects to supply Los Angeles.
  14. Why do Hattie and Edward disbelieve Indigo’s report of the slave market (Part 6)?
  15. Describe Aunt Bronwyn’s activities and gardens.
  16. Talk about Hattie’s unusual experiences while visiting Aunt Bronwyn.
  17. Why does Silko bring in European tales/myths/sacred sites in here?
  18. What is Edward’s mission in Corsica? How does he go about it?
  19. Discuss Edward’s willingness to buy and export artifacts.
  20. So far, in what ways is this novel an indictment of a Western/white/modern sensibility?
Discussion 19: Radical Ecology
Discuss different trends in sustainable development.
Essay 2
Essay 2 is a research activity that will focus on one of our course novels (note, Radical Ecology is not a novel).  Due by midnight, Saturday.  Please put the paper in the Dropbox for Essay 2. 
Week 8:
Gardens in the Dunes, Parts 7-end
Discussion 20: Gardens in the Dunes
  1. What various problems/bad actions does Dr. Gates represent?
  2. Describe Laura and her artifact collection. Why is Edward hostile?
  3. Recount the snake tales told here—what purpose do they serve?
  4. Comment on Edward’s insistence that they teach Indigo “a docile willingness to serve” (p. 309 in my text).
  5. Examine the effect of the dam (part of the California water project) on the people and lands (find info on dams in the Week 8 Overview in the Content area).
  6. Comment on Edward’s eagerness to collect the meteorites vs. the star stories of the natives.
  7. What happens with Hattie? How does she respond?
  8. Who is Hattie by the end of the book?
  9. What is Silko telling us with the last scene in the book the return to the dunes and the spring?
Final Exam
Once under the supervision of your proctor, go to the Quizzes area of the course to find the final exam.  It will be available beginning Tuesday and must be completed by Saturday as coordinated with a proctor.  Students will not be allowed to bring textbooks or notes into the exam environment.  No more than two hours will be allowed for completion of the exam.

Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be

Late papers will be penalized 5% / day, and may be refused entirely if more than one week overdue.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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