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Dr. Laura L. Runge
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LIT 6934: Literature of Place: Florida


    Selections from Jahoda's River of Golden Ibis (Canvas)
    Review video of Bob Brinkmann, Professor of Geography, USF (Canvas)
    DUE: Post #8
    Photo Essay on Cross Creek / Payne's Prairie

Class Objectives:

    Explore our watershed and the various ecosystems at Hillsborough River State Park

    Photograph, write and engage natural environments

Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Field Trip Directions: For those of you driving on your own, Hillsborough River State Park is accessed off of Highway 301: directions .

    All others, please meet at the English department office in Cooper at 3:00. We will drive from USF (it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get there.) We will gather just inside the entry station. There is a pull off. If you get there ahead of me, tell them you are with the USF class. You should not have to pay a fee.

    To prepare for this field trip, please wear appropriate outdoor gear. Bring binoculars if you can. Also be prepared with water. If you have any field guides, you will be able to use them.

    We will do a hike, perhaps have a talk with a ranger, and then we will have time for a contemplative exercise. I plan to do something like the urban observation, except this will be in the "wild." Please bring your notebooks and either something to draw with or something to write with.

    Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Our main readings for this week are intended to give you background information about the Hillsborough River. The book by Gloria Jahoda, River of the Golden Ibis was published in 1973, originally intended as part of the Rivers of America Series. The work is part anthropology, part history, part nature writing, and it is inspired by a deep sense of place. I encourage you to read as much of this as you can. It will give a rich sense of the place we now call Tampa Bay. I do not plan on discussing this directly.

    Jahoda claims that the Hillsborough River and bay are extremely influential in the course of the history of our state. Explain why this is so. Compare this to any previous understanding you have of the way land/water influences the history of where you live.

    What is significant about the geological history of the Hillsborough River basin? How might it influence your thinking of the present if you take a long view of history?

    Place names are important markers of history, power, and identity. According to Jahoda, what names has the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay had over time? What is significant about these names? Why Hillsborough? Can you relate this to what Robert Brinkmann tells us about the political and scientific "art" of naming and mapping ecosystems?

    Evaluate the narrative style of Jahoda's book.

    How might ecocritical models or theories of place help you to understand this work?

    Written over 40 years ago, what is dated about this book? What might a reader want to know now? (There are two full sections which you are not reading -- the book is 390 pages plus bibliography and index.)

    From Wild Heart Joe Hutto writes: "The nature of a river is not about ownership but rather about membership and fundamental relationship -- geological, biological and social -- with the society of living things. A river is not merely the expedition of water from an origin to a destination but instead a complex, living, indivisble entity, and as in all life, exists as a product of its birthplace, its history, its integration with the land, and its nourishment. The bodily essence of a river is one of unimaginable power, but its wild heart and soul are fragile" (108). If you are interested in further readings on riverine environments, also see essays by Klinkenberg and Ripple.

    What might it mean to envision a river as a membership or relationship with the society of living things? Consider this in practical, philosophical, aesthetic or other terms.

    Robert Brinkmann's lecture is on Ecosystems, and it provides a great foundation for understanding how scientists define, map and work with various ecosystems. The information will deepen our appreciation of the unique Florida ecosystems we encounter at HRSP as well as inform our understanding of Florida literature. Consider how plants and animals (humans included) adapt to and are emplaced in ecosystems.

    As you walk through the HRSP, consider the idea Brinkmann raises of becoming aware of the differences as we shift from ecosystem to ecosystem -- from, for example the Pine Flatwoods to the Cypress marshes. Notice how the hydrology defines the environment.

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