HC101H - The Garden and the Wall

Professor: Gantt Gurley

4.00 credits

  • CRN 12399: Monday & Wednesday, 10:00-11:20am @ CHA 301
  • CRN 12409: Monday & Wednesday, 12:00-1:20pm @ CHA 201

“I'd like to be
Under the sea
In an octopus' garden
In the shade”
–    Ringo Starr

Perhaps the most ubiquitous allegory in all of world literature is the garden, the locus amoenus, a concept that is often synonymous with paradise. The garden is both a metaphor of humankind’s contemplation and a location of human activity. However, both the English words “garden” and “paradise” have the etymological meaning of ‘enclosure’ or ‘enclosed by walls.’ The wall creates a contrast between the cultivated idyllic space inside and the landscape that surrounds, serving as a marker of identity and a limiter of contact. What does it mean to sit inside a garden? How does this space function as a place of learning and discovery as well as a place of recreation and delight? What the heck is an octopus’ garden? In a vast and complex world of figurative language, this course will navigate the analogical thought of poets, writers, musicians, and artists from the ancient to modern world. We will look at the work of Sappho, Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, John Milton, Zou Fulei, Manuel de Falla, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Anna Lidia Vega. The aim of the course is to explore perceptions of fragility, sexuality, and power in the garden by discussing themes of ecology, transindigeneity, wilderness, biopiracy, divinity, and decay."