FYS 122 Eden and Other Gardens

Nancy Bradbury, M W 1:10 PM-2:30 PM

 “We are …/ caught in a devil’s bargain/ and we’ve got to get ourselves/ back to the garden” (Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock,” 1969).  This seminar asks why the ideal human existence is so persistently imagined as life in an enclosed garden.  What do gardens represent to those who wish to return to them?  Along with plants, gardens have long hosted nostalgic yearnings, seductions, epiphanies and visions, acts of healing, falls from grace, and dramatic increases in knowledge. Through extensive and varied readings, popular songs, a film, guest lectures, interviews with campus horticulturalists, and visits to campus sites, we will explore the changing meanings over time of gardens both literary and real, including botanic gardens and the college campus as academic garden.  The course requires active participation, weekly writings, an oral presentation, and an ongoing, self-designed research project analyzing the history, design, plantings, and cultural meanings of a chosen campus garden.  Through her project, each participant in this seminar will add to existing knowledge about a small but significant piece of Smith’s beautiful campus. 

 Required texts for this course will include:

Burnett, Frances Hodgson The Secret Garden (1910-11).  Signet Classics, 2003.  ISBN 978-0451528834.

 Čapek, Karel.  The Gardener’s Year.  Trans. Geoffrey Newsome.  Modern Library 2002.

            ISBN 978-0375759482.

Harrison, Robert Pogue. Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition.  University of

            Chicago, 2009.  ISBN 9780226317908.

Milton, John.  Paradise Lost.  Oxford World’s Classics, 2008. ISBN 978-0199535743.

Pollan, Michael.  Second Nature.  Grove Press, rpt. 2003.  ISBN 978-0802140111.

Stoppard, Tom.  Arcadia.  Faber & Faber, 1994.  ISBN 978-0571169344.