Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Theories of Literature 5: Literature and Ecocriticism

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The purpose of this study-unit is to explore and compare a number of key literary perspectives on the environment, nature and ecology, and to familiarise students with the emergent field of Ecocriticism and its literary and theoretical origins.

The first part of the unit surveys notable instances where literary works are concerned with the environment and nature in non-instrumentalising ways that show how literature can open a space in which questions of ecology and place come to the fore. In this regard, works by Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Henry David Thoreau, the English Romantics and the development of ‘Nature Diaries’ in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries will be examined. ‘Nature’ as a literary and cultural construct, particularly as it stands in opposition to the so-called ‘built’ environment, will be a particular focus of discussion. The second part of the unit examines the growing appeal of literary criticism which offers an environmental or ecological perspective on literary works, and considers the rise of Ecocriticism, Eco-poetics and Green Studies and assesses their impact on literary and cultural criticism.

Reading List

- Bate, Jonathan, Romantic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition (London and New York: Routledge, 1991).
- Bellanca, Mary Ellen, Daybooks of Discovery: Nature Diaries in Britain 1770-1870 (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2007).
- Branch, Michael and Slovic, Scott, The ISLE Reader: Ecocriticism: 1993-2003 (Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 2003).
- Buell, Lawrence, The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1995).
- Carson, Rachel, Silent Spring (London: Penguin, 2000).
- Coupe, Laurence, The Green Studies Reader (London and New York: Routledge, 2000).
- Frost, Robert, The Poetry of Robert Frost (London: Vintage, 2001).
- Garrard, Greg, Ecocriticism (New York and London: Routledge, 2004).
- Hadot, Pierre, The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature, trans. M. Chase (Cambridge MA, London: Belknap Press, 2004).
- Rosendale, Steven, ed., The Greening of Literary Scholarship: Literature, Theory and the Environment (Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2002).
- Thoreau, Henry David, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Mineola, N.Y.: Dover, 1995).
- Whitman, Walt, Leaves of Grass, The First (1855) Edition (London: Penguin Books, 1986).
- Wordsworth, William, A Critical Edition of the Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984).


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Marija Grech

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