Thursday, June 28, 2007

Under the Sea-Wind
by Rachel Carson

Moderators for July
Prof. Mark Lytle, Author, The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement (Oxford, 2007).

Patricia DeMarco, Executive Director of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association in Springdale, PA.

We will devote the month of July to a discussion of Rachel Carson’s first book, Under the Sea-Wind, published in 1941 by Simon and Schuster. Under the Sea-Wind is probably Carson’s least well-known book, but perhaps the most readable. It appeared to enthusiastic reviews from both literary and scientific reviewers in November 1941. Two weeks later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the public lost all interest in these wonderful stories about shore birds, mackerel, and eels. With the enormous success of The Sea Around Us, Oxford University Press reissued Under the Sea-Wind in 1952 which once again received warm reviews, sold in excess of 100,000 copies, and became a Book-of-the Month Club alternative selection.

Suggested Readings
This month’s readings will include the book, Carson’s domestic and professional circumstances when she wrote it, and consideration of the ecological ideas that informed it.

Week of July 2 Under the Sea-Wind, Book I, “The Edge of the Sea”

Week of July 9 Under the Sea-Wind, Book II, “The Gull’s Way”

  • On the Ecology of Producers and Consumers see Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy, (rev. ed. 1994) Chapter 14. Or look at Charles Elton, Animal Ecology.

Week of July 16 Under the Sea-Wind, Book III, “River and Sea.”

  • On organicism, the “Ecology Group,” and “web of life” read Worster, Nature’s Economy, Chapter 15. See also Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, and Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac.

Week of July 23 Rachel Carson and the Age of Ecology

  • On “The Age of Ecology,” read Worster, Nature’s Economy, Chapter 16. See also Barry Commoner, The Closing Circle and Howard Odum, Environment, Power and Society.

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