Teaching Hemingway and the Natural World (essay collection; review of abstracts 31 Aug 2012; accepted essays 15 Jan 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Kevin Maier

Ernest Hemingway is a writer we often associate with particular places and animals: Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Spain's countryside, East Africa's game reserves, Cuba's blue water, and Idaho's sagebrush all come to mind. We can also easily picture the iconic images of Hemingway with flyrod bent by hefty trout, with bulls charging matadors in the background, or of the famous author proudly posing with trophy lions, marlin, and a whole menagerie of Western American game animals. As Robert E. Fleming once put it—updating Gertrude Stein's famous quip that Hemingway looked like a modern and smelled of museums—Hemingway "was also a hunter, fisherman, and naturalist who smelled of libraries" (1). Hemingway indeed read widely in natural history and science, as well as the literature of fieldsports. This lifelong interest in the natural world and its inhabitants manifests itself in Hemingway's writing in myriad ways. To be sure, from the trout Nick Adams carefully releases to Santiago's marlin, from Robert Jordan's "heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest" to Colonel Cantwell's beloved Italian duck marshes, and from African savannahs to the Gulf Stream, animals and environments are central to Hemingway's work and life.

Since its origins, Hemingway scholarship has been marked by a robust treatment of these animals and environments. Malcolm Cowley's introduction to The Portable Hemingway focused on the fishing of "Big Two-Hearted River," for example. Similarly, Phillip Young's famous "code-hero" hypothesis hinges on an understanding of hunting culture's rules of engagement for the natural world. In both these instances, and in much of the early scholarship, however, Hemingway's representations of the natural world are mined for how they explain male psychology more than for how they suggest a particular relationship to the natural world or its inhabitants. While these representations often served as background for broader arguments related to more human-centered matters in early scholarship, more contemporary critics have opted to treat animals and environments directly. Fleming's 1999 collection Hemingway and the Natural World offers an excellent foundation, but with the rapid emergence of environmental literary studies in the last two decades much work remains.

This collection aims to not only advance scholarship on Hemingway's relationship to the natural world, but to also facilitate bringing this scholarship to the classroom. Indeed, the goal of the Teaching Hemingway series is to present collections of essays on various approaches to teaching emergent themes in Hemingway's major works to a variety of students in secondary schools and at the undergraduate and graduate level. The goal of this particular volume of the series is to explore how teaching Hemingway might help shed light on broader questions about the human relationship to the nonhuman world.

While the final organization will depend upon the accepted essays, we anticipate three general essay types:

Texts. These essays will treat the teaching of texts individually or comparatively. While most should engage teaching strategies, some are allowed to remain mostly interpretative as long as they are mindful of the volume's audience and purpose. We need essays to serve as models of literary criticism for our students. In this and the other categories, you can certainly discuss the pedagogical challenges you have faced, and perhaps continue to face.

Contexts. For teachers who want to illuminate the texts through a more intensive examination of historical or cultural contexts, these essays will demonstrate ways of helping students see and write about the relationship between Hemingway's work and extra-textual material. (What was Hemingway's relationship to Louis Agassiz-style natural history? How much of Teddy Roosevelt's sportsman's conservation platform did Hemingway embrace?) Alternatively, essays of this type might focus chiefly on the context itself. (How might an understanding of the debates between conservationists and preservationists shed light on Hemingway's relationship to broader environmental politics? How might debates about evolution help us understand Hemingway's writing about the natural world?)

Course Design. These essays will offer ways of incorporating Hemingway's work into a literature and environment course--or as unit on these themes in more general course. Essays of this type will address matters of the course's or unit's general design and aims, text selection, and emergent connective threads, and will of course spend a good deal of time explaining Hemingway's place in the course. Assignment sequences and other methods for achieving the course goals are also welcome.

We are looking for essays of approximately 2500-4000 words that consider any of a number of topics related to the broad theme of Hemingway and the natural world, as well as essays that offer pedagogical theories and practices for teaching specific texts. The editors welcome proposals from emerging scholars, and the volume will reflect a wide range of critical approaches. Proposals of no more than 750 words should be sent to both Kevin Maier (kevin.maier@uas.alaska.edu) and Teaching Hemingway series-editor Mark Ott (mott@deerfield.edu) by 31 August 2012 to ensure fullest consideration for inclusion in the volume. Authors whose work is accepted should plan to deliver completed manuscripts by 15 January 2012.