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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL5834M Romantic Ecologies

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr David Higgins
Email: D.Higgins@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Objectives

This module will invite students to reflect on human encounters with the more-than-human world in the British Romantic period. We will investigate the representation of local and global habitats and climates; of animals and plants; and of naturalists, colonists, and visionaries. Students will interrogate the significance of Romanticism for environmental thought, and trace connections between Romantic-period debates and present-day ecological concerns. They will examine the relationship between Englishness, Britishness, and colonial expansion, recognising how biological interactions helped shape the history of empire. The course will focus especially on the diverse ways in which the Romantics imagined the lives, the influence, and the ethical importance of non-human beings.

We will study the politics of the environment via Edmund Burke, William Cobbett, Thomas Malthus, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Romantic natural history will be represented by Gilbert White’s prose and Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, as well as the poetry of John Clare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith, and William Wordsworth. Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man will provide an opportunity to examine Romantic apocalypticism in an environmental context. We will pay special attention to works by Lord Byron, Stamford Raffles, and Percy Bysshe Shelley that were inflected by the global cooling caused by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815. Finally, the imperial and colonial aspects of Romantic ecology will be investigated through authors such as William Bartram, Thomas Love Peacock, and Mungo Park.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- demonstrate detailed knowledge of the module’s key areas of focus, such as human-animal interactions, environmental change and catastrophe, ecology and empire, and the politics of ‘nature’ in writing of the British Romantic period;
- exhibit an understanding of the complexities involved in representations of the environment in Romantic-period literature in relation to their historical context;
- engage with current critical debates concerning the relationship between literature and the environment, and relate this engagement to the module’s primary texts;
- analyse the relationship between Romantic-period writing and modern environmental concerns;
- develop an ethically-informed and self-reflective approach to environmental issues;
- show a command of academic writing and analysis by producing an extended essay addressing the topics investigated on the module.

Skills outcomes
Masters (Taught), Postgraduate Diploma & Postgraduate Certificate students will have had the opportunity to acquire the following abilities as defined in the modules specified for the programme:
- the skills necessary to undertake a higher research degree and/or for employment in a higher capacity;
- evaluating their own achievement and that of others;
- self direction and effective decision making;
- independent learning and the ability to work in a way which ensures continuing professional development;
- to engage critically in the development of professional/disciplinary boundaries and norms.


Syllabus

This module addresses the centrality of ecology to Romantic-period literature, and covers a wide range of authors and genres. Close attention will be paid to the politics of the environment through engagement with Edmund Burke, William Cobbett, Thomas Malthus, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Romantic natural history will be represented by Gilbert White’s prose study of Selborne, Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, and the poetry of John Clare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith, and William Wordsworth. Many authors on the module address ecological change and catastrophe, and we will focus especially on works by Lord Byron, Eleanor Porden, Stamford Raffles, and Percy Bysshe Shelley that were inflected by the global cooling caused by the Mount Tambora eruption of 1815. Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man will provide an opportunity to examine Romantic apocalypticism in an environmental context. Those texts, along with the travel writing of William Bartram, will also enable us to investigate the imperial and colonial aspects of Romantic ecology.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Seminar102.0020.00
Private study hours280.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Reading, seminar preparation, essay research: 280 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be required to write one unassessed essay of 2,000 words

Methods of assessment


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

ESS

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019

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