Writing and the Environment:

How nature influences and infiltrates

our writing... and what to do about it!

While it may seem cliché and overstated to say that “nature is all around us,” nature and the environment always affects art whether consciously or subconsciously. It serves as an inspiration, a scenic backdrop, a character, and as a symbol for the human experience. In some cases the environment takes on a mythical quality. The Romantic era writers rebelled against Industrialism, praising nature as an escape from the manmade world. Pastoral literature also idealized nature. On the other end of the spectrum, tragic natural disasters cause physical and emotional displacement. The abuse of the environment motivates writers to act as witnesses and activists. No matter how we grapple with the environment, it’s a part of our existence that can’t be ignored.  


Stacy Alaimo’s concept of trans-corporeality suggests that there is no clear boundary between the physical environment and our bodies. Thinking along these lines, this class will explore the way the natural environment makes us feel and how it seeps into our daily lives. In turn, we’ll discuss how nature weaves into our writing. By reading work across multiple disciplines including environmental writing as a genre, and by exploring nature from all angles, we’ll learn how to portray nature uniquely in our work. 


*Some of the readings we’ll discover include Connie May Fowler’s memoir A Million Fragile Bones, a myriad of poetry including Mary Oliver and Jane Kenyon, Amy Thomson’s science fiction book The Color of Distance, and snippets from Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture


In addition to readings, we’ll spend class time writing and/or workshopping. At the close of the class, the instructor will provide the students with resources where they may submit their environmentally-themed work if interested: Grist, Orion, Environmental Critique.


*Readings subject-to-change

–This class is open to writers of any skill-level, but novice writers are especially encouraged to register. 


–This class is designed for all types of students/writers as they will try their hands at short works of nonfiction, poetry/ blended genre, and fiction.

Thursdays from 

beginning July 19th through August 23rd :: 6:30-8p

6 sessions :: $75

Course taught by Michelle Donfrio.

About this teaching artist:

Michelle Donfrio has her Masters in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and a BA in English Writing. Her writing experience is varied; she has worked as a freelance journalist, television writing intern, literary journal editorial assistant, and as a guest blogger. Her creative writing has been published in literary journals such as Nonbinary Review, Crack the Spine, and Poydras Review. As a resident of Aurora, she was recently featured in community art projects such as the  Illinois State Poetry Gardening display and the Aurora Winter Lights Celebration. When she's not writing, she is working at her "9 to 5" marketing job or attempting a yoga pose.  

To register for Writing and the Environment

please email or call us. Space is limited. 

The Republic of Letters NFP

RoL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

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Geneva, Illinois 60134