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Dramas of Solitude
Narratives of Retreat in American Nature Writing
Dramas of Solitude
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Randall Roorda - Author
SUNY series, Literacy, Culture, and Learning: Theory and Practice
Price: $95.00 
Hardcover - 283 pages
Release Date: February 1998
ISBN10: 0-7914-3677-2
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-3677-6

Price: $32.95 
Paperback - 283 pages
Release Date: February 1998
ISBN10: 0-7914-3678-0
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-3678-3

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Brings the insights of narrative theory to bear upon the genre of nature writing, to explore the social or ethical purposes of solitude in stories of retreat in nature.

What do stories of nature tell us about the social or ethical purposes of solitude? And what do stories of solitude reveal of the "character" of nonhuman nature? Dramas of Solitude brings the insights of narrative theory to bear upon the genre of nature writing, to explore the social or ethical purposes of solitude in stories of retreat in nature.

Through discussions of texts by Henry D. Thoreau, John C. Van Dyke, Wendell Berry, and student writers, among others, this book complicates social views of literacy with depictions of a solitude held in dynamic relation to a not-only-human community. It will inform the efforts of literary critics and writing teachers alike who hope to reintegrate English studies upon ecological terms.

"Roorda's extended discussion of key nature writings provides a fresh interpretive perspective that illuminates these writers' visions in exciting and intellectually engaging ways. Roorda's careful, close readings and intellectual engagement prompt readers to revisit these texts from new and significant critical angles. The author's insightful discussions of the ethical dimensions of nature writing is fascinating." -- John S. Lofty, author of Time to Write: The Influence of Time and Culture on Learning to Write

"Besides the exquisite writing, it is quite interesting to see a piece that prompts a creative discourse about the way we have displaced nature to the periphery of culture through our inability to think of nature as the 'place' wherein culture resides." -- Mary Abascal-Hildebrand, University of San Francisco

Randall Roorda is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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Table of Contents



1 Genre and Narrative in Nature Writing

A House with Two Doors
Fixing the Genre
Solitude as Story

2 Going Out, Going In: Narrative Logic in Thoreau's "Ktaadn"

First There Was No StoryExemplar and Paradigm
What "Ktaadn" Is About
Three Ways of Reading
Self Writing and Self Written
Losing the Human
Before the Beginning
The Cutting-Room Floor
"Where Away Does the Summit Bear?"

3 The Subject of The Desert

Negotiating "The Approach"
Cactus as Cross
Versions of Van Dyke
A Story of Reading

4 Familiar Mysteries: The Exemplary Wendell Berry

Day One: Pace, Presence, and Melancholy
Day Two: Afoot in the Woods
A Language of Meaning and Value
Berry's Exemplary Character: Some Social Uses of Solitude

5 Sites and Senses of Writing in Nature

The Scene of the Solitary Writer
The Nature Writer's Estate: "Writing" and "Living"
Beyond Doors: Writing on Site
Transcription and Entrenchment
The Cabin as the Windowed Site of Writing
Looking Up

6 Writer or Rhapsode? Iconic Metaphors for Literate Identity

John Muir: Nature Writing's “Natural"
The Mission to Entice
The Bread Problem
The Instruments of Literacy and "Indigen Wisdom"
Nature Savant and Literate Indigen

7 Keeping It Simple: Reinvention and Recovery of Nature in General Education

Retreat Scenarios in Student Writing
Cyborgs and Solos


Works Cited


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