This Web site is a portal into the study of environmental literature of North Carolina by undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke.
What is environmental literature of North Carolina? Environmental literature of North Carolina is any written text that thematizes, narrates, records, represents the diverse lifeforms, landforms, and climates of North Carolina, the ways that diverse human communities understand their relationship to the places they inhabit.
In our course, we studied culture (American Indian, European American, and African American) and place (the coastal plain, piedmont, and mountains) through an environmental justice perspective, one that welcomes the claims of scientists and probes the consequences of cultural constructions of "nature."
We began with Cherokee myths of the origins of the Great Smoky Mountains and practices of hunting and farming. Next, we traced the journey of British surveyor John Lawson and his documentation of the region's trees, animals, insects, and fish. Finally, we saw how Moses Roper, an African American slave narrator, grappled with a landscape of terror and violence -- a landscape he knew well, as the landscape of his family and his labor -- yet a landscape he was forced to flee, because of the inhumanity and environmental catastrophe of slavery.
Our immersion in African American, American Indian, and white perspectives on the state's environments enriched our explorations of North Carolina's biodiverse landscapes. Rachel Carson, Jan DeBlieu, and Randall Kenan's essays and stories placed on the edge of the continent, where the waters of the Atlantic met the sandy shores of the coast. James Applewhite's poems meditated on human existence in the piedmont, in the watershed of the Eno River. Finally, Thomas Wolfe's naturalistic drama, The Mountains, helped us think like a mountain -- but also to think about how we performed our humanity within our environment.
Our last community of texts invited us to think about our responsibility to the ecosystems in which we live, our fellow North Carolinians, and to future generations. We celebrated North Carolina as the birthplace of environmental justice and were inspired by Charles W. Chesnutt, Allison Adele Hedge Coke, and Tim McLaurin. We saw ourselves and our homeplaces through the eyes of Trinidadian author V.S. Naipaul. Lastly, we confronted the consequences of human abuse of the environment in the wasteland depicted in Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
We welcome you to this Web site and invite you to view the pages we have created that explore these writers and their work.