What is the appeal of islands? Why do they fascinate us? Islands are viewed alternately (or sometimes simultaneously) as exotic paradises, retreats from civilization, deserted locales, savage wastelands, havens for biological diversity and/or experimentation, and so on. As a particularly distinctive geographical feature, islands have captivated human attention and imagination. They are of great interest not only to writers, but also scientists and environmentalists. The isolation and insularity of islands magnifies numerous social, political, economic, scientific, and environmental issues. How have islands shaped our understandings of individual identity, social/communal identity, race and ethnicity, nature and the environment? How do we shape islands, and how do they shape us? This course focuses on works of American literature that center around islands. We will read texts from different time periods (18th century – present day) that cover a mix of science and nature writing, speculative and science fiction, as well as more traditional “literary” works, and, in doing so, question the distinction between these genres. The readings cover a variety of different island locations including Hawaii, the Caribbean, the Galapagos, and Newfoundland.