Planting seeds: Essays on nature and nurturing

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephanie Regina Cook (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Laura Wright

Abstract: This thesis explores the relationship between plants and people. Specifically, I was interested in how plants provide healing services to humans and their experiences, both formative and traumatic. This thesis takes the approach of creative nonfiction, in the form of personal essays. I incorporated many of the nonfiction books I read for my comprehensive exam to give focus to each chapter and each essay from a literary perspective. Each section relies on research and literary analysis, but ultimately each section revolves around my personal narrative essays. Additionally, the entire project is housed under the main arch of The Overstory by Richard Powers, with this text introducing the ideas for each section. Methodology relies on research and readings conducted during comprehensive exams, as well as additional readings about nature healing. Narrative essays allow me to explore the more scientific and literary discussion through a personal lens, connecting my life, as well as the lives of others, to plants at a human level. I explore the healing aspect of plants using section headings titled “Ground Level,” “Below Ground,” and “Above Ground.” “Ground Level” represents the formative experiences I have had in nature and how those experiences tie me to my human world. In this section, people who have guided me along this journey become central, as well as experiences when I felt my connection to the earth was most remarkable. “Ground Level” is the bridge between the two other sections, demonstrating not only how I got from below to above “ground,” but also how those connections still exist within me, how those experiences continue to inform who I am and my path forward. “Below Ground” represents the stories that are hidden. These are the things that I keep buried, that I don’t share often with others, that have created such a basement to my being that they hold the whole version of myself up. The essays in this section represent the trauma that has informed my life and that I work hard daily to move past. “Above Ground” is where I consider myself now. In “Above Ground,” I answer back to the formative and traumatic experiences that have shaped me and write essays from a place of healing – healing that has come through observations and interactions with the natural world.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2022
Creative NonFiction, Ecosystem Health, Ecotherapy, Mental Health, Nature Healing, Plants
Creative nonfiction
Personal narratives
Ecosystem health
Mental health

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