What is Nature? Is Nature the biological substratum of human society or the converging practices of local ecology? Is Nature a potent historical agent in its own right or a philosophical blunder of epic proportions? Such questions have a lively history in the Americas. Indeed, while Nature has a near mythic form in many public debates, much of its content is culled again and again from salient American examples. This course, then, uses such thorny questions as provocations to reflect more precisely on the historical cases and empirical problems that both animate presences of Nature in the contemporary and account for some of what makes social life in the Americas particular. Our orientation will be critical, comparative, and constructive. First, we will take a closer look at how the figure of nature has offered expedient cover to a number of interested causes, from colonialism to climate change. Next, we will compare the analytical configurations of nature in scholarship, understanding how nature has been taken up as a resource to fight over, as a historical agent in its own right, as an ideal that orients emotions and ethics, and as a crisis that demands new forms of political action. Lastly, we will work to mobilize what we’ve learned into a more potent set of reflections and engagements with the natural world today.