J.A. Baker’s essay, “Beginnings”
In A Field Guide to The Norton Book of Nature Writing, p. 61, the editors present the following, regarding J.A. Baker’s essay, “Beginnings” (pp. 587-91):
Baker describes his part of England as “profuse and glorious as Africa.” But his tone is mournful as he notes the summer woods full of dying birds poisoned by “filthy, insidious . . . farm chemicals.” DDT, the pesticide that [Rachel] Carson spoke out against in Silent Spring, almost wiped out the peregrines, but efforts since have helped the species rebound. Leopold said, “[W]e can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.” Can nature writing help make this emotional and ethical connection between people and creatures or habitats that they might never see? Why or why not?”
This essay will require that you make use of two sources (Baker and Leopold). Your response to this question will require that you answer the question through an analysis of Baker’s own attempt to make those connections for his reader, and whether he succeeds. Further, your essay should make use of Leopold’s “The Land Ethic”—for example, drawing on his discussion of the “community concept” and/or “ecological conscience”—in order to strengthen your thesis on whether Baker’s essay succeeds. One good way to structure such an essay would be to select three of Leopold’s main concepts (for example, “Community Concept,” “Ecological Conscience,” and “The Land Pyramid”) and then use those concepts as the main topics for performing an analysis of the targeted essay (Baker’s or another one of your choosing—see below).
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