Nature is a powerful force in our lives, sometimes as inspiration, sometimes as a means of human connection, and sometimes as an adversary to be resisted and overcome. In this course we will read aloud stories about human encounters with Nature, both good and bad, studying along the way the literary technique each author employs to draw attention to these elemental confrontations. Readings will include Herman Melville’s “The Lightning-Rod Man,” John Galsworthy’s “The Japanese Quince,” Jack London’s “The Law of Life,” Doris Lessing’s “A Mild Attack of Locusts,” Lydia Davis’s “The Center of the Story,” and Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box.”


Elizabeth Young was a professor in the Department of English at California State University, Long Beach, for 17 years; she is now a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in Great Barrington. Current writing projects include a book on grief, The Colors of Mortality, and a blog, Adaptations: Tales of Transformation, for Psychology Today.


Suggested reading: Copies of the stories will be distributed in class plus a brief handout about the short story as a literary genre.





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OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

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