You’ve had the chance to meet the amazing partners we’ve teamed up with on Next Indiana Campfires. Now, we’re introducing you to the creative, intelligent and environmentally savvy scholars leading us on our adventures (register for one here). Our scholars will help infuse the humanities into each excursion by facilitating interesting conversations that connect environmental literature, nature and the past, present and future of Hoosier stewardship. Be sure to check the blog throughout the summer to “meet the minds!”
Up first? Meet…
Del Doughty, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Huntington University
What excursions will you lead?
What drew you to Next Indiana Campfires? How does it connect to your professional or personal interests?
We count on the humanities to raise awareness and help us solve problems, and Next Indiana Campfires is the kind of program that does that well by connecting people to ideas and places.
What author, book, essay or poem first awakened an interest in environmental writing? Tell us a little about when you read it and how it impacted you.
I was an English major in college, so my first real exposure to environmental writing came through the Transcendentalists, especially Thoreau, Melville, and Whitman. After reading those guys, I literally began to see things differently. Among contemporary writers, I admire the work of Mary Oliver and Robert Hass. Hass’s recent poem, “Ezra Pound’s Proposition,” is one of my all-time favorites. In it, he shows the links between global finance, hydroelectric power plants, flooded villages, teenage prostitution, and sexual tourism. The poem isn’t very long, but it’s an education.
Where’s your favorite place to spend time outdoors in Indiana? Have you discovered a hidden gem that more Hoosiers should know about?
I’m pretty fond of Fox Island County Park, just outside of Fort Wayne. I go there for birdwatching mostly, but in the winter it is a great place to cross-country ski.
What’s the focus of your scholarly research / creative practice? How does it relate to nature and the environment?
Lately, I have been writing a lot of short satirical pieces, but I am probably best known as a poet and even more so as a haiku poet. One definition of haiku is that it is a short poem that connects nature to human nature. Here’s an example:
Classroom window sill—
pinto beans sprout in a row
of paper cups.
Is there an environmental humanities topic or text that you love teaching? What is it, and why do you love using it in the classroom?
I love Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, a novel that brilliantly contrasts the Native American way of looking at the natural world with the Western view, which is obsessed with notions of mastery and power. A lot of students initially have a hard time accepting her critique, but there always comes a moment, about two-thirds of the way through the book, that things go click and they begin to see.
Okay, just for fun! If you could have a bobble-head of any Hoosier living or dead, who would it be and why?
Bobble-head? Kurt Vonnegut, of course! He’s got one of the warmest, most distinctive voices in American literature.
Next Indiana Campfires is a unique way to connect nature, literature and Indiana’s Bicentennial. The program is supported by the Efroymson Family Fund, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires. Indiana Humanities is supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc. and the National Endowment of the Humanities.
This post is part of the weekly blog series devoted to the initiative. Check back every Tuesday to learn more about Indiana’s great environmental literature, find out interesting facts about Hoosier stewardship, get all the latest program details and more.