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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Literature, Languages and Cultures

Undergraduate Course: Pastoral Literature (LLLG07100)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummarySome of the greatest writing in English has been in the pastoral genre. Concerning far more than shepherds and shepherdesses, pastoral has been used over the centuries to handle profound issues of personal relationships, spiritual anxieties, and even contemporary political problems. In an age when man's relationship with the environment is increasingly precarious, pastoral remains a genre of great interest. In this course we will trace the rise of pastoral from Theocritus and Virgil, through Spenser and Shakespeare, the Romantics Wordsworth and Keats, up to the Edwardians and the anti-pastoral writers of the First World War.
Course description Students of this course shall examine texts such as Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, writing by Marvell, Keats, Wordsworth and Tennyson and Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. In doing so, students will explore the way in which the pastoral genre has been used over the centuries to handle profound issues of personal relationships, spiritual anxieties, and even contemporary political problems. In an age when human relationship with the environment is increasingly precarious, pastoral remains a genre of great interest.

Students will be encouraged to read the poetic works with close attention to the technical features including metre, rhyme, imagery and form. Students will ask why each text was written, explore the literary climate of the time and use recognised literary criticism methodologies to evaluate how typical of their age each work is.

During classes, students will be given an illustrated lecture, giving a contextual overview of the texts and highlighting significant fields of research, and suggestions for further reading. Group reading of the texts and discussion will also form the basis of the classes and students will be encouraged to share their learning with the class. The tutor will support students to refer in detail to texts, using literary and academic vocabulary.

Topics which will be covered:

Background to pastoral: the 'Idylls' of Theocritus (c.270BC) and Virgil's 'Eclogues', translated by John Dryden (c.40BC)
Epic Arthurian pastoral: Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1590), Bk 1.
Pastoral-tragical-comical: Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale (1611)
Pastoral after a Civil War: Andrew Marvell, 'Upon Appleton House'(1651)
Pastoral as psychological healing: Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805 version), Bk 1
Pastoral and Eternity: Keats's 'Odes' (1819-21)
Dark Victorian pastoral: 'The passing of Arthur' from Tennyson, Idylls of the King (1885)
The glories of England in edgy Edwardian pastoral: Kenneth Grahame, extracts from The Wind in the Willows (1908) and poems by Edward Thomas
Pastoral and the Horrors of War: Poems and prose from the First World War by Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg (1914-18)

The course comprises ten two-hour classes plus approx. 80 hours of individual study
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
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. Use recognised critical terminology to identify the distinct characteristics of pastoral writing, including the ways in which it has changed and developed
  2. Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently;
  3. Articulate knowledge of the historical, social and political contexts in which the texts were written;
  4. Evaluate secondary materials in order to substantiate and inform arguments about how texts were received by contemporary society.
Reading List
Edmund Spenser., 2003. The Faerie Queene. Harmondsworth: Penguin
William Shakespeare., 2015. The Winter's Tale. Harmondsworth: Penguin
Andrew Marvell., 2005. The Complete Poems. Harmondsworth: Penguin
William Wordsworth.,1979. The Prelude. New York: W. W. Norton
John Keats., 2007. Selected Poems. Harmondsworth: Penguin
Alfred Lord Tennyson., 1983. Idylls of the King. Harmondsworth: Penguin
Kenneth Grahame., 2005. The Wind in the Willows. Harmondsworth: Penguin

Recommended further reading:
Peter Marinelli., 1971. Pastoral. London: Methuen
William Empson., 1966. Some Versions of Pastoral. London: Peregrine
Raymond Williams., 2011. The Country and the City. London: Spokesman
Jonanthan Bate., 2001. The Song of the Earth. London: Picador
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Confidence in discussing literary texts
Ability to articulate arguments and knowledge coherently
Ability to assess secondary material
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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