Dear L&L Crew 2017,
Welcome to Literature and the Land, a field-based environmental humanities class. Before we begin, I want you to know that by taking this course, you are aligning yourself with a line of Exonians who took this course during the 28 years it was taught by longtime Exeter English Instructor, Peter Greer. This course was one of the first of its kind in secondary schools and is responsible for inspiring many, many Exonians to a more deeply connected relationship to the natural world. As we look backwards this term to contemplate the scope of human engagement with landscape (and how we fit within that compass), it strikes me as important to recognize our place within the history of our own school, that when we notice the final melting of the river ice and the arrival of the Red-Winged blackbird, we see along with those who have taken note alike before us. Our stories and theirs, entwining. I sense a power in this truth.
Before Mr. Greer died, he and I shared a lunch at Front Row during which he shared with me how much this course meant to him during his career and how much it meant to him to know that it would continue to inspire Exonians.
This class invites you to reflect upon your own relationship to the natural world. It asks that you slow down and observe. It asks that you begin to learn the names of the trees and plants and birds and mammals of seacoast New Hampshire. It asks you to pay attention and that you render yourself open to the natural details around you. This course takes place during a pivotal moment in the arrival of spring, what Donald Culross Peatie deems “the slow turn of the seasons.” Most obviously, the ground will be covered in snow on this first day of class (if tonight’s forecast holds!). On the last, the trees will bear a verdant summer’s hue. Our task together, will be to bear witness to this magic as it unfolds around us beautifully, myriadly.
So I invite you into contemplation of our core text: the landscape itself. I invite you to make connections between it and what you’ve read, what you think, and what you classmates have read and thought. Mostly, though, I invite you to create a community of learners together, to laugh, to get to know each other, to bring your disparate passions and identities to this course during your final spring as Exonians.
It would be impossible for me to be more excited for our time together this spring.
Sincerely, Mr. Bre