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Indiana University Bloomington

Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders

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Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1971

I am an essayist and fiction writer, chiefly concerned with nature, community, family, ethics, and place. Among the places I care about and write about are my hometown of Bloomington and the forested hill country of southern Indiana, and more generally the Midwest. Among the ethical issues that most concern me are social inequity, militarism, and the degradation of Earth's living systems. While I sometimes address literary subjects — such as the works of Thoreau, Emerson, Aldo Leopold, and Wendell Berry, as well as the American nature writing tradiation and the art of the essay — I do so as a working writer rather than as a scholar or critic. The ten books I published during the first half of my teaching career were mostly novels and collections of short stories, including science fiction and historical fiction. The ten books published during the second half of my career have been mostly nonfiction, including documentary narrative, collections of essays, and memoirs. In the past several years I have been involved in adapting for the stage and performing theatrical works derived from two of my early books of fiction, Wilderness Plots and Bad Man Ballad. My most recent book, A Conservationist Manifesto, published in 2009, makes an ecological, ethical, and practical argument for shifting from a culture based on consumption to a culture based on caretaking. I am now at work on two books: the first of them a novel, the second a celebration and defense of the natural and cultural commons. My teaching reflects these interests, ranging from workshops in nonfiction to classes on the craft of fiction, nature writing, the contemporary essay, the ideal of equality, and the fate of the Earth.

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Recent Courses

English W615: Writing Creative Nonfiction
English W664: Recent American Memoirs
English L381: Contemporary American Essays
English W381: The Craft of Fiction
English L240: The Fate of the Earth
English W103: Introduction to Creative Writing


Selected Publications (click images for more information)

22 Books, including:

A Conservationist ManifestoA Conservationist Manifesto (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2009).

A Private History of AweA Private History of Awe (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006). Read reviews of A Private History of Awe >>

Wilderness Plots: Tales About the Settlement of the American LandWilderness Plots: Tales About the Settlement of the American Land (Wooster, Ohio: Wooster Book Co., 2007)

The Force of SpiritThe Force of Spirit (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

The Country of Language (1999).

Hunting for Hope (1998).

Writing from the Center (1995).

Terrarium (1995).

Staying Put (1993).

Secrets of the Universe (1991).

In Limestone Country (1991).

The Paradise of Bombs (1987).

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Selected Honors and Awards

Indiana Humanities Award
Guggenheim Fellowship
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Writing
Lannan Literary Award
Great Lakes Book Award
Associated Writing Programs Award in Nonfiction
Ohioana Book Award
Lieber Award for Distinguished Teaching