Critical & Reflective Inquiry: Writing in Place



Course Number




Course Description

Topic: Writing in Place. The world offers itself to your imagination (Mary Oliver). In this seminar, we will explore many questions: What is the relationship between where we are and who we are? What connects locality to identity, landscape to language, place to self? How does the world offer itself to our imaginations? What does it mean to write from a certain place? How do particular places affect us: cities, woods, rooms, vehicles, mountains, farms, schools, deserts, hospitals, bodies of water? What kinds of places and spaces do we share with other people? What are the possible connections between our writing and the places it emerges from? What are the diverse ways we can write, map, illustrate, or document our lives and the contours of our personal, social, and ecological geographies? What happens to us when we encounter places or spaces, or ways of thinking and being, that are unknown, unfamiliar, or strange to us?

To help us examine these questions, we will read a novel, personal narratives, academic essays, philosophical reflections, and poetry. We will do lots of writing exercises and ask lots of questions. We will do research, write academic and personal reflection essays and research papers, and give presentations to the class. Our assignments will encourage us to get out and about, look around, investigate, see what we can learn in the field, outside, in places themselves. At the heart of our collective explorations and investigations will be a spirit of curiosity and wonder about our diverse lives on this planet and their deep and surprising connections to the places we live in, travel through, and imagine.


Admission to Fairhaven College

Materials Fee


Required Texts

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street;

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within;

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being


S/NX grading; narrative evaluation

Faithful attendance, completion of all the readings and assignments, participation in class discussions, activities, and all individual and group work. Quality of written assignments and reflection essays, including the Research Essay, the Writing in Place Project, and a Writing Plan. 


Fall 2023

Course Instructor(s)

Stanley Tag

Course Subject