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June 10, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2008

Rambuss, Richard
English and Comparative Literature

Project Summary

Emory's Piedmont Project faculty workshop was a profoundly transformative experience for me—personally, intellectually, politically. I don‟t think that I'm being hyperbolic in saying that what I learned and experienced in it over those few days has altered the way that I move through the world. But a college classroom is not the same kind of place as a workshop devoted to consciousness-raising and activism. The question for me thus became: How might what I learned about sustainability inform what I teach in class? That question, I think, should be answered differently according to discipline. From my vantage as an English professor, it didn't seem appropriate for me to try to turn my literature classes into “science-light” literary versions of Environmental Studies. Nor did it seem right for me to use my classroom as a pulpit to preach the gospel of sustainability, no matter how much I believe in it myself. I feel the same way about all critical and theoretical approaches. I think that one should expose students to a variety of critical methodologies—to “teach the conflicts” (as Gerald Graff has put it)—rather than trumpeting “the truth” of a particular approach. Hence, instead of developing an entire new course on “Milton and Ecocriticism,” I decided to make that perspective one unit— I‟m calling it “Green Milton”—in a graduate seminar on Milton and Milton criticism that considers three vanguard approaches to reading him and early modern literature.




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