Until I arrived here to Wofford College a few days ago I was unfamiliar with the phenomenon of rich private colleges with small student numbers that are unique to the US. Walking around this campus is so relaxing. There are only around a thousand students here. The actual town of Spartanburg isn’t very charasmatic, but being here amongst the nineteenth-century red brick buildings and the massive oak trees in full leaf standing over their carpet of thick green grass… well it seems like these college environments constitute a pastoral idyll all of themselves, with gambling ecocritics on the sward. And I hate to sound like Prince Charles, but give me a moulded cornice any day over a sixties concrete bunker.
There are five hundred people here, but the Australian contingent is made up of only two people. Myself and the co-editor of The Littoral Zone: Australian Contexts and their Writers (CRANSTON, CA. and Robert ZELLER (Eds.) This book is in the same series as my own book on John Fowles, and is forthcoming. Conferences are always good places to learn of books to put on your ‘to read’ list, and I’ve added Terry Gifford’s Reconnecting with John Muir; Bill Mckibben’s Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earth; and Coming Into Contact: Explorations in Ecocritical Theory and Practice (Ingram, et. al.) to my list. Hopefully I’ll be having a look around some of northern New England next week, and because of this I also want to read Bill Mckibben’s book about walking through this area: Wandering Home.
Last night I was out in a pavilion on campus where a bunch of the profs were playing guitar and singing and hanging out – I tried to picture this kind of scene going taking place at a British ASLE conference and couldn’t see it. The English would just be too self-conscious. While I was there I met a woman who will be talking about place-based blogs – like this one I suppose – tomorrow morning. In other conference news, I met a young guy here who has a tattoo on his arm of a maple leaf, as originally drawn by Henry David Thoreau.
After the talks tomorrow morning I’ll be heading off for the weekend to St. Helena Island, and the Penn Center, with around twenty other conference participants, to check out that heartland of Gullah (a kind of African-American slave) culture. Monday afternoon I fly to Montreal.
So long Wofford College…