Since the field of Ecocriticism extends to experiential learning and pedagogies of place, the English Department’s Environment and Pedagogy Initiative has funded a number of course-related outings. Some result in research papers or multimedia projects exploring and theorizing contemporary issues in the local environment. Recently, Sally Shivnan’s class, ENGL 375: Imaginative Writing in the Land of Harriet Tubman’s Childhood, took a field trip to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore.
Students got their hands into lichen and moss and their noses into the salt marsh, and they visited the museum at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, with its exhibits detailing how Tubman led other slaves on dangerous journeys through this landscape many times in her quest for freedom. The course will culminate in creative work informed by students’ research into Tubman’s life, but also deeply informed by their intimate experience of this complex, haunting, wild land.