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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature (ENLI10356)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to introduce students to thinking about and reading literary texts from an environmental perspective, by inviting them to look at the range of British writing grouped under the heading of "new nature" writing, or contemporary green writing.
Course description 1. Introduction: William Wordsworth, "Nutting"; GM Hopkins, "God's Grandeur" ; Alice Oswald, "Sea Poem"
2. extracts from Robert MacFarlane, The Wild Places; Kathleen Jamie, extracts from Findings and Sightlines & "Airds Moor"
3. Basil Bunting, Briggflatts
4. Kathleen Jamie, The Tree House
5. extracts from Micahel Symmonds Roberts and Paul Farley, Edgelands; Roy Fisher, "City"; Sean O'Brien, poems from Down River
7. extract from Nan Shepard, The Living Mountain; poems by Norman MacCaig & John Burnside
8. Alice Oswald, Dart; images from Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlay
10. J.A. Baker, The Peregrine
11. W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
12. Gillian Clarke, Ice

This Senior Honours level option course, offered by Dr David Farrier, aims to introduce students to thinking about and reading literary texts from an environmental perspective, by inviting them to look at the range of British writing grouped under the heading of "new nature" writing, or contemporary green writing.
This course is about the pull of wild places, and the remaining possibilities of wilderness. Focussing on post-war and twenty first-century British writing, but also taking in the work of Romantic, Victorian and Modernist authors, the course will ask students to consider the influence which fantasies of places "outside history" and human interference play in understandings of landscapes, identity, the past, and nature. Much of this writing is motivated by a sense that connections to a more "natural" way of living have been lost to the pace of modernity, often exacerbated by the threats associated with climate change. Other writing expresses scepticism that such a recovery is possible, or even desirable. This course asks students to read with a mind to responding to questions about the relationship between landscape and memory, the compatibility of regional and (inter)national identities, the possibility of interaction between human and non-human worlds of perception, and the value and validity (or otherwise) of the idea of wilderness. Students will be invited to consider these questions in particular in relation to the possibilities offered by literary writing, and Jonathan Bate's assertion that poetry, and all literary writing, has a special capacity to give expression to the "song of the earth".
The course will also prioritise considerations of literary form and genre. The texts are limited to the UK, and to either poetry or travel/non-fiction. Non-fiction writing bears much of the current burden of the "new nature" writing, along with poetry. This reflected in the fact that both forms privilege a single perspective (the "I" describing the world); yet travel/non-fiction is also typically a relatively under-valued genre. However, many of the non-fiction texts on the course challenge easy distinctions between poetry and prose, and the course will therefore ask students both to assess the capacity of these forms to engage a sense of "placedness", and to assess the limits of formal boundaries.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. In addition to the skills training common to all English Literature Honours courses (essay writing, independent reading, group discussion, oral presentation, small-group autonomous learning) this course will aim to develop in students the ability to articulate (in written and oral forms) a considered, informed sense of the breadth and range of eco-critical writing, theory and contexts.
  2. Students will also be asked to evaluate a range of key concepts in eco-critical studies,particularly in terms of their relevance to current environmental contexts and their application to the primary texts.
  3. Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to work with interdisciplinary material.
  4. Students will articulate how their own thinking and research agenda has developed.
  5. Students reflect constructively on good learning practice
Reading List
Background Bibliography

Steve Baker, Picturing the Beast
Steve Baker, The Postmodern Animal
Jonathan Bate, Romantic Ecologies
Jonathan Bate, The Song of the Earth
J Scott Bryson, Ecopoetry
Lawrence Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism
Lawrence Buell, The Environmental Imagination
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Laurence Coupe, The Green Studies Reader
Roger Deakins, Woods
John Elder, Imagining the Earth
Gavin Francis, True North
Terry Gifford, Green Voices
Ian Jack (ed) Granta 90: Country Life
Timothy W Luke, (1995) On Environmentality: Geo-power and Eco-knowledge in the Discourse of the Contemporary Environment. Cultural Critique 31(2): 57-81.
Richard Mabey, The Unofficial Countryside
Robert Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind
Robert Macfarlane, The Old Paths
Peter Makin, Bunting: The Shaping of His Verse
Peter Makin (ed) Basil Bunting on Poetry
Roy Willis, Man and Beast
Edmund O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information One hour(s) per week for 10 weeks: attendance at Autonomous Learning Group at times to be arranged.
KeywordsEnvironment; green; poetry; nature
Course organiserDr David Farrier
Tel: (0131 6)50 3607
Course secretaryMs Sheila Strathdee
Tel: (0131 6)50 3619
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