Book Schedule for May Discussion

May's Featured Book:
Courage for the Earth. Edited by Peter Matthiessen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

Contributors include: John Elder, Al Gore, John Hay, Freeman House, Linda Lear, Robert Michael Pyle, Janisse Ray, Sandra Steingraber, Terry Tempest Williams, andE. O. Wilson

Moderators: John Elder and Deanne Urmy

Week One, May 1-8: Rachel Carson's Historical Context
Our readings will be Peter Matthiessen's introduction to the collection, Linda Lear's "Love, Fear, and Witnessing," and "Remembrance of Life," John Hay's "A Long View of Rachel Carson," and Al Gore's "Rachel Carson and Silent Spring." The focus for this week will be on the political and scientific situation within which Carson wrote, on the nature and logic of resistance to Silent Spring, in particular, and on the contemporary impact of her writing.

Week Two, May 9-16: Carson as Writer--Inspiration and Influence
We'll delve into three essays that relate to Rachel Carson's literary influences and accomplishments, as well as to her inspirational power for writers today: Jim Lynch, "Rachel Carson in The Highest Tide," Sandra Steingraber, "Silent Spring: A Father-Daughter Dance," and John Elder, "Withered Sedge and Yellow Wood: Poetry in Silent Spring."

Week Three, May 17-23: Carson as Naturalist and Activist
Several essays in Courage for the Earth address Rachel Carson's science in illuminating ways. E. O. Wilson, "On Silent Spring," Janisse Ray, "Changing Sex," and Robert Michael Pyle, "Always a Naturalist." We'll focus on Carson's own distinctive insights and on confirming discoveries by subsequent scientists, as well as on the ethical implications of the naturalist's calling.

Week Four, May 24-31: Building on Carson's Achievements
Our readings for this last week all ask what we may learn from Carson as we confront climate change, endocrine disruption, and the other daunting challenges to life on earth. Terry Tempest Williams, "The Moral Courage of Rachel Carson" and Freeman House," Silent Future: Rachel Carson and the Creeping Apocalypse" will be our focal essays, though in this context we may also return to readings from Matthiessen, Ray, and others. Tying together the month's discussions will thus be one goal, as well as looking forward to the next chapters in the story of conservation.

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