Self Reflective Essay

Coming into this class, I already had a background of science writing with the NeuWrite/Edu program at Geneseo and my own interest for weaving geology into my writing. I thought I had a tangential grasp at what nature writing was because of that. I mean, what’s more natural and close to the earth than the study and the telling of geologic stories? Over the course of this semester, the articles we read (from “Generation Anthropocene” to “Thirteen ways of seeing nature in LA”) helped me understand some of the aesthetics and theory behind nature writing that I hadn’t known, which is to say the articles helped me understand the difference between science writing and nature writing. They’re similar, of course. They’re probably two sides of the same coin, but the approach for nature writing is very different. It often seems to be more about the human experience with nature rather than the nature itself, and that by digesting a person’s interaction with nature we can learn more about it and our place within it.
I think, if I were to redo this project, that might be my focus, and I might have picked a different area that was within walking distance of campus. What I found difficult about the Greenway was making time to go and visit there to work on nature writing there, and that was partially due to the long winter we had in NY (maybe this course would work better in a fall semester?) and partially because I was taking five other classes this semester. I also found the depth of time that the Greenway spanned interesting, but overwhelming, and, while I’m okay with working with deep time, I wish we had dealt with it in a way that wasn’t chronological.
We did end up going semi-chronological, because that’s what made sense for the website. I think, personally, I found the website the limiting agent in the way we used it, because we were stuck between wanting to do something totally out of the box (navigation by way of map and the H5P plug-in), but we also felt like we needed to follow traditional website forms by way of navigational tabs. If I were doing this project again, I might ditch those tabs completely, and more clearly make the site pages feel like trail/historical markers.
All of this said, I am very proud of the website we put together. I’m proud that I learned to use all of these digital tools. I also really like the writing I did for the 2nd industrial revolution, and I love the cascade used in the environment tab a lot as well.
This was a really wonderful course. I wish that I had taken fewer classes alongside it, so that I could have really thrown myself into research and field trips, but even so it was great. This classed taught me so much about nature writing and digital humanities. My classmates and professors were all wonderful, and I can’t say enough good things about it other than I hope that Storied Landscapes and the work the COPLAC is doing continues into the future.

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