Eco-criticism drives group's local study

A dozen graduate students from English, Geography and the Faculty of Education recently completed UBC's first-ever course in the newly emerging field of eco-criticism. The course focused on an interdisciplinary study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment.

Organized by English Prof. Laurie Ricou in response to students' requests, the course emphasized the discussion and analysis of a collection of essays in The Eco-Criticism Reader. The course also included an examination of some aspect of the immediate environment.

The students created a Web site on the environmental history of Graham's Gully, the path leading to Tower Beach east of Green College, commonly known as Trail 3.

"The students felt a Web site was the way to connect what they were doing in an academic setting with the community itself," Ricou says.

The students combined history and scientific information with personal reaction and expressed their discoveries through poetry, prose and photography.

"I think some of the discussions were the most animated I've ever seen," says Kina Cavicchioli, one of the students who took the course.

Ricou says the Trail 3 Web site will be expanded as the public contributes to it, and as future eco-criticism courses evolve.

"The students have created something special here that provides an intersection between environmental studies and the traditional concerns of the humanities," says Ricou.

The Web site can be found at