Nature Writing Assignment

English 330
Prof. Reed

Instructions for the Natural History Journal Entry, due Oct. 16


This first part of a two-part exercise in creative imitation asks that you do two simple things. First, select a place on the campus of Emory University (including the Oxford College campus) where the natural, unbuilt environment is still in evidence. If no such places come to mind, consult the web-site <>, the home-page of Emory’s Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Stewardship, for a map and guide to such preservation sites.

Visit the place you have chosen, opening your eyes and ears and other senses to what you find there and committing a few salient features of the landscape to memory or a notebook. Then, in the serenity of your accustomed place of study, write a journal entry describing what you find most memorable or interesting in what you saw. You may consult guides to North Georgia flora and fauna if you like, and you may engage local inhabitants in conversation, if you can find them. But you need only write, in clear English prose, a description of some feature of the landscape of some 300 words (a single typed page) in length.

You may adopt the style and perspective of one of the writers on the natural history of the Lake District or other regions we have read in the course–Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth, Thomas De Quincey, Pearsall and Pennington, or Hunter Davies; Charlotte Smith (in her footnotes) or William Bartram. (I append to these instructions a couple of paragraphs from the grandfather of English natural history writers, Gilbert White, from his Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne [1789], as one more model you may adopt.) Or you may adopt a style and point of view that is completely your own. Romantic writers stress originality, after all.

Type your observations, proofread what you have written. Remember that four weeks later I will ask you to turn this simple prose account into poetry, into blank verse or unrhymed iambic pentameter.

Listen to Crickets or birds while you work.