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Center for

Environment & Society

CRS 244: A Humanities Perspective on the Chesapeake

This section of the Chesapeake Semester offers a humanistic perspective on the Chesapeake Bay. One way to think about this part of the course would be the most familiar: just as you will be exploring the organic life of the Bay from the perspective of the natural and social sciences, so too you will encounter, in both readings, discussions, and your various field experiences, cultural artifacts of the Bay in terms of music, philosophy, the visual arts, and writing.  However, it will also be emphasized that to develop any understanding of the Bay, be it scientific or poetic or philosophical or anthropological, the student must learn to see and hear and think and write, as Thoreau puts it, with deeper references. Writing and thinking and creating are also organic endeavors.  In this sense, our course is an exploration not just of the humanities of the Bay—arts, ethics, literature, writing—but of the humanistic understanding that you will bring to all the components of the Chesapeake Semester, that you will demonstrate (the expectation) in your final project, and that you will translate (the hope) into your future studies and endeavors beyond this course and the college.


Course Topics

  • The Art of Keeping a Journal
  • Vision and Site in Environmental Writing
  • Revision and Writing
  • The Environmental Literature of the Chesapeake — group discussions and discussions with regional writers
  • Art in the Exploration of Nature & the Environment
  • The Power of Scientific Illustration
  • The Peales — Art & Science
  • Traditional Art of the Chesapeake
  • Music and Culture
  • Musical Genres of the Region
  • The Influence of Religion in the Chesapeake — spirituality and stewardship
  • Environmental Ethics

Sample Activities

  • Keep a daily journal reflecting your activity and your thinking about your experiences.
  • Prepare drawings, photographs, videos or other works that reflect specific aspects of the estuary and enhance powers of observation.
  • Work with original works of art in conservation, exhibitry or collections management (Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum collections, WC Archaeology Lab)
  • Study and analyze an original work of art or music
  • Write, perform or participate in traditional or other regional music
  • Conduct interviews exploring issues such as values and environmental ethics