Project Description

University of Georgia, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

“With thousands of acres of nonregenerating forest disappearing every hour, and hundreds of our fellow species becoming extinct each month as a result of our civilization’s excesses, we can hardly be surprised by the amount of epidemic illness in our culture. …

“Caught up in a mass of abstractions, our attention hypnotized by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect us back to ourselves, it is all too easy for us to forget our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities. Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth—our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of the wolves and honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human… the more-than-human world.

 —David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World


In this class, we will begin to uncover narratives of our deep intimacies and intertwinings with what the philosopher David Abram calls the more-than-human world. As we read and discuss stories, poems, and essays, we will examine the role of the sensuous terrain and all its living beings in literature. We will explore the threads in our language that weave us into the world and create the rich tapestry of our lives. The works we read will invite us to imagine the perspectives of the host of other characters—“the multitudes” of experience—in this magnificent drama of which we are a part.

We will respond critically to works by Ross Gay, Rick Bass, Rose McLarney, William Wordsworth, Louise Erdrich, Charles Simic, Hikaru Okuizumi, Loren Eiseley, Annie Dillard, Joni Tevis, Rebecca Giggs, Sy Montgomery, Julio Cortázar, Rachel Carson, Nickole Brown, J. Drew Lanham, W.S. Merwin, Janice Harrington, Amy Leach, William Stafford, Juliana Spahr, and others.

{art: “Owls” by Tiffany Bozic}