Department of English

Emma Train

MA in creative writing, poetry, University of California Davis

PhD Student



20th and 21st century American poetry and poetics; queer theory; ecocriticism and environmental theory; feminism; critical theory


RHE 309K • Rhet Of Environmentalism

42530 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 104

The journalist Naomi Klein describes climate change as a civilizational wake-up call. In the wake of increasing urgency regarding climate change, this course will explore how artists and writers employ rhetorical techniques in the service of environmental wake-up calls. We will develop a working definition of environmentalism and identify the major themes and motives of environmental thinking. We will engage in the discourse and rhetoric of environmentalism, with an emphasis of the political stakes of environmental movements and writing. We will tackle questions like: What is environment rhetoric? What are the rhetorical aims of environmental movements and activism? What does it mean to be environmental or an environmentalist? What does it mean to “fight” against climate change? How do writers, artists, politicians, and journalists redefine what it means to be political in the age of climate change (what some scholars call the “anthropocene”)? 

We will explore a variety of texts (non-fiction, literature, policy documents) that engage in environmental thought, global climate change, and environmental justice and activism, and will also pay particular attention to visual objects and visual rhetoric (films, documentaries, photographs). This course aims to enable each student to locate themselves as a political actor and as a discerning cultural critic of environmental rhetoric. This course fulfills the university writing flag requirement.

Assignment breakdown: 

  • Minor Assignments (regular short writing assignments, under 500 words, and an annotated bibliography): 20%
  • Rhetorical Analysis Paper: 15%
  • Research Paper: 20%
  • Argumentative Proposal Paper: 20%
  • Argumentative Proposal Paper Revision: 15% 
  • Class participation: 10%

Required texts:

  • Mark Longaker and Jeffrey Walker, Rhetorical Analysis: A Brief Guide for Writers, 2011 (Pearson, 1st edition)
  • Other readings will be available for download from Canvas (within fair use policies).

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