Teaching Green Romanticism to Environmental Studies Majors


Green Romanticism

Tilar J. Mazzeo
Email <tjmazzeo@colby.edu>
English 342/Environmental Studies 342

Course Description:

The Romantics were known as the poets of nature—but what was at stake in their relationship to the environment? How did the ecological crises of late eighteenth-century Europe influence their works?  How did Romantic poetry help to shape the history of Western environmentalism?  In this course, we will study Romantic literature from the perspective of "eco-criticism." This means that we will be asking how the relationship between people and the landscape is imagined and how it is structured by institutions of class, economics, politics, gender, science, and law.

Required Texts:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Jane Austen's Mansfield Park
Course reading packet

Student Responsibilities:

Discussion and Class Presentation: 20%
Midterm examination (with take home essay portion):  20%
Final examination (with take home essay portion): 30%
Response essays:  30%




Anticipated Reading Schedule:

Week 1: Images of the Landscape in the Romantic Period

Introductory Course Lecture

William Blake's "The Clod and the Pebble"

William Blake's "And Did Those Feet in Ancient Times"

Week 2: Exploration and Environmental Impact

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Jim McKusick's "Coleridge and the Economy of Nature," Studies in Romanticism 35 (1996): 375-392.

W. J. T. Mitchell's "The Imperial Landscape," ch. 1, Landscape and Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002; second edition).

Week 3: Landscape Aesthetics and Human Subjectivity

Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Mont Blanc"

Jonathan Bate's "The Picturesque Environment," ch. 2, The Song of the Earth (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).

Andrew Ross' "The Ecology of Images," Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations, ed. Norman Byrson, et al. (Hanover: University of New England Press, 1994).

Edmund Burke's "Enquiry into the Origins...of the Sublime and Beautiful" (selection)

Week 4: Landscape Painting and the Poets

William Wordsworth's "Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle"

Landscape Painting:

George Beaumont, "Peele Castle" (painting) (available in Landscape Painting)

Paintings by Claude Lorrain (Landscape with Dancing Figures), Caspar David Friedrich (Cloister Cemetery in the Snow, Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon, and Wanderer above a Sea of Fog), J.M.W. Turner (Slavers throwing over the dead and dying), John Constable (View of Dedham) (available in Landscape Painting)

Luke Herrmann's British Landscape Painting of the Eighteenth Century (introduction) (London: Faber and Faber, 1973).

Ron Broglio's "The Picturesque and the Kodak Moment" <http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/contemporary/broglio/broglio.html>

Week 5: Biology and the Natural World

Percy Shelley's "The Sensitive Plant"

Erasmus Darwin's The Botantic Garden (selection)

Robert Maniquis's "The Puzzling Mimosa: Sensitivity and Plant Symbols in Romanticism," Studies in Romanticism 8:3 (Spring 1969): 129-155.

Onno Oerlemans's Romanticism and the Materiality of Nature (introduction) (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2003).

Week 6: Vegetables and Meat: The Politics of Production

Percy Shelley's "A Vindication of Natural Diet"

Timothy Morton's "'The purer nutriment': Diet and Shelley's Biographies," ch. 2, Shelley and the Revolution in Taste (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

Week 7:  Pantheism and Natural Religion

Percy Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind"

William Wordsworth's "The world is too much with us"

William Blake's "There is no natural religion"

Tanya Luhrmann's "The Resurgence of Romanticism: Contemporary Neopaganism, Feminism, and the Divinity of Nature," Anthropology and Environmentalism, Ed. K. Milton. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Week 8:  Weather, Climate, and Environmental Catastrophe

Samuel Coleridge's "Frost at Midnight"

John Keats' "To Autumn"

Lord Byron's "Darkness"

Jonathan Bate's "Living with the Weather," Studies in Romanticism 35:3 (Fall 1996): 431.

Week 9: Environmental Apocalypse and the Last Man

Thomas Beddoes' "The Last Man"

Thomas Campbell's "The Last Man"

Thomas Hood, "The Last Man"

Laurence Buell's "Environmental Apocalypticism" (ch. 9), Environmental Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995)

Morton Paley's "Mary Shelley's The Last Man: Apocalypse without Millennium,"

Mary Shelley's The Last Man (selections),

Week 10: Romantic Gardens and Horticulture

John Clare's "To a Fallen Elm" and autobiography

William Wordsworth's "Yew Trees"

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"

Tim Fulford's "Cowper, Wordsworth, Clare: The Politics of Trees," The John Clare Society Journal 14 (1995): 47-59.

Week 11: Tourism, Population, and the British Rural Poor

*Start reading Austen's Mansfield Park, due for next week*

Dorothy Wordsworth's Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland (selection)

George Dyer's "The Complaints of the Poor People of England"

Joseph Huck's A Pedestrian Tour through Wales (selection)

Thomas Malthus' "Essay on the Principles of Population" (selection)

Week 12: Romantic Gardens, with an emphasis on gender questions

Jane Austen's Mansfield Park

Garden designs by Humphrey Repton, Capability Brown, and Alexander Pope

Horace Walpole's History of the Modern Taste in Gardening (selection, the "Ha-Ha")

Week 13: Rousseau and the Republican Landscape

William Wordsworth's The Prelude (selections, book six) 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Reveries of a Solitary Walker

Kenneth Olwig's Landscape, Nature, and the Body Politic (selection) (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002)

Week 14: "Hardly Hedgerows": Parks, Landscape Enclosure, and Class

Wordsworth's "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey"

Marjorie Levinson's "Insight and Oversight: Reading 'Tintern Abbey'," Wordsworth's Great Period Poems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986)

Nicholas Roe's The Politics of Nature (selection) (London: Palgrave, 1992)

Week 15: Redemptive Landscapes

Lord Byron's "Apostrophe to Ocean" (Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, canto four)

Samuel Coleridge's "This Lime Tree Bower, My Prison"

John Keats's "The Vale of Soul-Making" (Letters)

Ralph Pite's "How Green Were the Romantics?" Studies in Romanticism 35 (1996): 367-73.

Lowy and Sayre's Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity (selection) (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.