Dramas of Solitude: Narratives of Retreat in American Nature Writing

Dramas of Solitude: Narratives of Retreat in American Nature Writing

by Randall Roorda
Pub. Date:
State University of New York Press

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Dramas of Solitude: Narratives of Retreat in American Nature Writing

What do stories of nature tell us about the social or ethical purposes of solitude? And what do stories of solitude reveal of the "character" of nonhuman nature? Dramas of Solitude brings the insights of narrative theory to bear upon the genre of nature writing, to explore the social or ethical purposes of solitude in stories of retreat in nature.

Through discussions of texts by Henry D. Thoreau, John C. Van Dyke, Wendell Berry, and student writers, among others, this book complicates social views of literacy with depictions of a solitude held in dynamic relation to a not-only-human community. It will inform the efforts of literary critics and writing teachers alike who hope to reintegrate English studies upon ecological terms.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780791436776
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 02/28/1998
Series: SUNY series, Literacy, Culture, and Learning: Theory and Practice Series
Pages: 283
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

Table of Contents



1 Genre and Narrative in Nature Writing

A House with Two Doors
Fixing the Genre
Solitude as Story

2 Going Out, Going In: Narrative Logic in Thoreau's "Ktaadn"

First There Was No StoryExemplar and Paradigm
What "Ktaadn" Is About
Three Ways of Reading
Self Writing and Self Written
Losing the Human
Before the Beginning
The Cutting-Room Floor
"Where Away Does the Summit Bear?"

3 The Subject of The Desert

Negotiating "The Approach"
Cactus as Cross
Versions of Van Dyke
A Story of Reading

4 Familiar Mysteries: The Exemplary Wendell Berry

Day One: Pace, Presence, and Melancholy
Day Two: Afoot in the Woods
A Language of Meaning and Value
Berry's Exemplary Character: Some Social Uses of Solitude

5 Sites and Senses of Writing in Nature

The Scene of the Solitary Writer
The Nature Writer's Estate: "Writing" and "Living"
Beyond Doors: Writing on Site
Transcription and Entrenchment
The Cabin as the Windowed Site of Writing
Looking Up

6 Writer or Rhapsode? Iconic Metaphors for Literate Identity

John Muir: Nature Writing's “Natural"
The Mission to Entice
The Bread Problem
The Instruments of Literacy and "Indigen Wisdom"
Nature Savant and Literate Indigen

7 Keeping It Simple: Reinvention and Recovery of Nature in General Education

Retreat Scenarios in Student Writing
Cyborgs and Solos


Works Cited


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