Date of Award

8-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Advisor

Morey, Sean

Committee Member

Goss , Erin

Committee Member

Naimou , Angela

Abstract

Through literature, news outlets, media, parents, teachers, and peers, youth are currently being made aware that there are severe problems in the environmental and social realms. However, the imagined but representative stories found in literature also offer opportunities for students to learn how to combat these crises, and instilling the value of place in students through pedagogy will help them become proactive adults. The particular dynamic between community and place is one we see at work in “Greenleaf” by Flannery O'Connor, an author who has been left out of ecopedagogical conversations but can be useful in finding imaginative connections between place and community. This essay explains the importance of these lessons and how literature is a useful tool in conveying them, next offering an ecopedagogical reading of “Greenleaf” showing how it might be used in the classroom to help students think through the questions raised throughout the essay.
Using literature in place-based learning can help students reach beyond the local place and see how they themselves, and their place, fit into a larger world context. A fictional world gives students an opportunity to imagine and represent important social and environmental issues by presenting a different kind of lived experience. Harsh in its observance of the human condition, “Greenleaf” raises questions and concerns about social problems that still affect most people today, also addressing issues of the human drive to control nature and the part people play in cultivating their environment. The story renders many opportunities for students to discuss and reflect upon their position amongst each other, their communities, their environments, and their global space.

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