As a student in this Endeavor program, you will become a part of a community of inquiry, where you will work to understand scholarship, activism, and creative activity as deeply reciprocal activities that must be undertaken in common.  Through this Endeavor experience, intimately tied to the 2024-25 Tucker Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts, students will work to understand the history of the concepts of “nature” and “representation” (the latter has both a political and an aesthetic meaning), learning to trace a history of how those words assumed meaning in the past that shapes how we think and act in the present. Students will also explore how artists across time, including in our present, have approached environmental concerns and aims.  The goal of this Endeavor program is to craft a deeply immersive intellectual experience during your first year on campus.

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  • Coursework Overview

    The coursework for this Endeavor community involves taking a one-unit course in the fall and spring semester, both taught by Dr. Snaza.

    Fall 2024 Semester Spring 2025 Semester
    FYS 100: Human/Nature (1 unit) ENGL 299: Topics in Literary Analysis (1 unit)

    FYS 100 satisfies a general education requirement; students are required to take one first-year seminar (FYS)

    ENGL 299 satisfies the Literary and Textual Inquiry and Written Communication general education requirements


  • Specific Course Information

    FYS 100: Human/Nature

    This course explores mostly pre-20th century writing that has shaped our senses of “human” and “Nature,” read through our present moment of anthropogenic climate change and mass extinction. We will track how each of the two terms in the course title has been defined in (sometimes startlingly) different ways across time, and how they have been understood in relation. We think about how philosophical questions shape how all knowledge is constructed, carefully reading the language of “primary” texts in the history of ideas and developing strategies to interpret and critically analyze such texts.

    ENGL 299:  Topics in Literary Analysis: “Representing Nature”

    Students will attend events across the academic year tied to the Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts with visiting artists, writers, and academics. Readings in the course will either be by those visitors, or texts that that help us contextualize the intellectual and aesthetic work of visiting guests. We focus on how ideas about “nature” came to be, including attention to how colonialism has produced climate change, in part by making some ideas about “nature” seem natural or given. We also explore how artists and activists are rethinking “nature” as part of efforts to survive climate catastrophe.

  • Faculty Information

    Dr. Nathan Snaza
    Dr. Nathan Snaza
     is an Assistant Professor of English, and Director of the UR Humanities Center.

  • Endeavor Short Course Information

    As part of the Endeavor program, you will participate in the popular Endeavor Pre-Orientation program, where you will take a short course led by Dr. Nathan Snaza.

    Short Course Description:  What We Talk about when We Talk About Nature

    Mixing open discussion with close attention to a small number of short texts—from newspapers, philosophy, and literature—each of our meetings will explore the meaning of one English word: “nature,” “natural,” “naturalization,” and “unnatural.” We will examine not just definitions and connotations, but also track how those words do political and cultural work, bringing into play complex arguments about morality, scientific knowledge, and, ultimately, what it means to be “human.”