This guide accompanies the following article: Drew, Erin and John Sitter: Ecocriticism and Eighteenth-Century Studies. Literature Compass 8.5 (2011): 227–39, 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2011.00797.x
In recent years, a growing number of 18th-century scholars have begun applying an ecocritical lens to texts that were previously ignored or denigrated by environmental literary critics. These scholars have argued that 18th-century English literature consistently expresses profound love and concern for the non-human world even as it often celebrates human use of it. Meanwhile, the environmental legacy of 18th-century developments like the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the Anthropocene – the geological epoch in which humans have become the primary driver of climatic change – establish in an unprecedentedly concrete fashion the fundamental connection between 18th- and 21st-century environmental concerns. That connection makes it especially appropriate to pair 18th-century English literature and ecocriticism in the classroom. The course outlined in this article combines units that survey trends in 18th-century nature writing and environmental history with those that apply ecocritical approaches such as ecofeminism to a selection of 18th-century texts in order to provide students with a strong command of both ecocriticism and 18th-century English literature on nature.
In recent years, a growing number of 18th-century scholars have begun applying an ecocritical lens to texts that were previously ignored or denigrated by environmental literary critics. These scholars have argued that 18th-century English literature consistently expresses profound love and concern for the non-human world even as it often celebrates human use of it. The contradictions evident in 18th-century literature, many of these scholars then argue, mirror 21st-century attitudes towards nature more closely than has usually been recognized, in both their positive and negative aspects. Meanwhile, the environmental legacy of 18th-century developments like the Industrial Revolution and colonial expansion continue to shape the modern world. The emergence of the Anthropocene in the mid-18th century – the geological epoch in which humans have become the primary driver of climatic change – establishes in an unprecedentedly concrete fashion the fundamental connection between 18th- and 21st-century environmental concerns. That connection makes it especially appropriate to pair 18th-century English literature and ecocriticism in the classroom. Reading 18th-century texts through the lens of environmental criticism draws out aspects of Enlightenment thought that are particularly applicable to the contradictions and struggles of modern environmental thinking. Similarly, studying 18th-century history and literature of the environment gives students a deeper understanding of the origins and implications of climate change and environmentalism.
The course outlined in this article is broken down into four units, organized thematically. The first two units situate works of 18th-century nature writing in literary and historical contexts including the vogue for georgic poetry, the aesthetics of the sublime, colonial expansion and the rise of natural history. The second two units approach 18th-century texts from the perspective of two major ecocritical theories, ecofeminism and animal studies. By combining units that survey trends in 18th-century nature writing and environmental history with those that apply a particular ecocritical approach to a selection of 18th-century texts, this course provides students with a strong command of both ecocriticism and 18th-century English literature on nature.
Other Relevant Literature Compass Surveys
Kevin Hutchings, ‘Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies.’Literature Compass 4/1 (2007): 172–202.
Hutchings provides a thoughtful and comprehensive account of the major debates that dominated Romantic ecocriticism in its first 25 years. The survey covers topics including deep ecology, Romantic science and animal rights. Discussions of primary works that could overlap with an 18th-century ecocriticism course – including Mysteries of Udolpho and Erasmus Darwin – highlight trends in environmental thought that link the 18th century to the 19th.
Kevin Hutchings and Charity Matthews, ‘Teaching and Learning Guide for: Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies.’Literature Compass 5/2 (2008): 424–34.
The Teaching and Learning Guide contains a detailed bibliography of scholarly and online sources, some of which will be helpful to teachers of 18th-century ecocriticism. Of particular interest are the bibliographic entries on Jonathan Bate’s The Song of the Earth, Carolyn Merchant’s The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution, Timothy Morton’s Ecology Without Nature, and David Perkins’s Romanticism and Animal Rights. The syllabus offers some alternate approaches to and background readings for Charlotte Smith, Edmund Burke and Ann Radcliffe.
General Introductions to Ecocriticism and Ecocritical Pedagogy
Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2012.
Timothy Clark, Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment. New York: Cambridge UP, 2011.
To get a sense of the field of ecocriticism and its most up-to-date concerns, Garrard’s and Clark’s recent surveys are indispensible. Both books examine major ecocritical topics including deep ecology, ecofeminism and environmental justice in order to tease out their conceptual, literary and practical strengths and weaknesses. Two of Garrard’s chapters, “Pastoral” and “Dwelling,” are especially relevant to 18th-century scholars due to their in-depth discussion of the ways pastoral and georgic have figured in ecocriticism. In addition to his clear explanations of major trends in ecocritical thought, Clark’s book offers an excellent analysis of the challenges posed to environmental literary criticism by climate change and the historically tumultuous relationship between science and the humanities.
Greg Garrard, ed., Teaching Ecocriticism and Green Cultural Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Garrard’s edited collection provides a variety of practical and theoretical essays on teaching environmentally-themed literature classes. A few essays are particularly pertinent to teachers of 18th-century ecocriticism. Garrard’s “Introduction” (1–10) and Richard Kerridge’s “Ecocriticism and the Mission of ‘English’ ” (11–23) reflect on the history of ecocriticism and the central role pedagogy has played in its development. Erin James’s “Teaching the Postcolonial/Ecocritical Dialogue” (60–71) offers practical tips for navigating the often-tricky intersections between postcolonial and ecocritical theory which could be useful in discussions of Robinson Crusoe and James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane. Louise Westling’s excellent “Literature and Ecology” (75–89) argues for the theoretical and practical importance of bringing contemporary works of natural history to bear on literary texts in the classroom, and offers some examples of ways to introduce scientific texts to the English classroom.
Christopher Hitt, ‘Ecocriticism and the Long Eighteenth Century.’College Literature 31.3 (2004): 123–47.
Hitt’s article is among the earliest publications to urge ecocritics to re-consider the importance of 18th-century literature for environmental thought. Hitt argues that 18th-century literature’s characteristic “double gesture of both deference and mastery before nature” (132) bears significant similarities to 21st-century environmental attitudes and practices, making the study of the 18th century in the academy and in the classroom crucial to the advancement of environmental criticism.
David Fairer, English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century: 1700–1789. London: Longman, 2003.
David Fairer, ‘ ‘Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air’: The World of Eco-Georgic.’Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 40 (2011): 201–18.
The chapter “Pastoral and Georgic” (79–101) in Fairer English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century offers an especially clear account of the differences – literary, cultural and conceptual – between the two genres as deployed by 18th-century poets. His recent essay on “Eco-Georgic” claims that 18th-century georgic poetry’s emphasis on restraint and responsibility towards nature constitutes an acknowledgment that nature is fully other, autonomous from humans, and possessed of needs and rights of its own. Georgic poetry, Fairer contends, promotes consideration for the needs of nature alongside those of humans as the path to sustainable living.
Fabien Locher and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, ‘Modernity’s Frail Climate: A Climate History of Environmental Reflexivity.’Critical Inquiry 38.3 (2012): 579–98.
Locher and Fressoz trace the history of European climatic theories in order to argue that anxiety about human beings’ role in environmental change is not unique to modernity, as has been argued. Rather, concern about humans’ impact on the climate reaches back well into the early modern period. Although their article covers the 19th-century as well, Locher and Fressoz begin their story in the 18th-century, when the Anthropocene began.
Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1993.
Plumwood’s extremely influential study demonstrates that the historical tendency to align “reason” with men and “nature” with women is the product of particular cultural and historical beliefs rather than of an innate difference between the sexes, as many ecofeminists had previously argued. Plumwood argues that the destructive schisms between reason and nature that ecofeminists point to arise from the dualistic nature of much Western philosophy. She concludes that investigating the social and philosophical discourses that aligned woman with nature will allow ecofeminists to draw attention to the unique environmental insights women have historically held without falling back on reductive claims about the earth-centeredness of femininity.
Donna Landry, ‘Green Languages? Women Poets as Naturalists in 1653 and 1807.’Huntington Library Quarterly 63.4 (2000): 467–89.
Landry argues that Margaret Cavendish’s and Charlotte Smith’s poetry fuse proto-scientific observations of nature with strong sympathy for the non-human world in ways only possible thanks to their uniquely feminine perspectives on science and nature. The combination of practical care for nature and strong, female-gendered feelings produces an early form of social ecology that recognized the fundamental importance of sustainable, rather than idealistically pastoral, relationships with nature.
Sylvia Bowerbank, Speaking for Nature: Women and Ecologies of Early Modern England. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004.
Speaking for Nature operates on the basic ecofeminist assumption that the early modern tendency to align women with nature and emotion led women to develop unique sensitivity to the travails of the non-human world. For Bowerbank, this sensitivity manifests itself in the work of some 18th-century women writers as an imperfect but powerful form of environmental consciousness. Bowerbank analyzes the “flawed” ecological sensibilities of works by women ranging from mid-seventeenth century poetry to eighteenth-century children’s field guides in order to understand what their strengths and weaknesses reveal about the gendered history of environmental thought.
Anne Milne, “Lactilla Tends her Fav’rite Cow”: Ecocritical Readings of Animals and Women in Eighteenth-Century British Laboring-Class Women’s Poetry. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UP, 2008.
Milne’s book focuses on the “interlocking oppressions” of women and the working class (17). Both groups, as Milne points out, were strongly associated with nature in 18th-century culture, in ways that working-class women poets alternately celebrated and lamented. Milne analyzes the disparate ways laboring-class women poets employed animals to explore the simultaneously empowering and constrictive discourses of wildness and domestication that were applied equally to women and to animals.
For additional information and bibliographies on environmental history, see Environmental History Resources (http://www.eh-resources.org/) under “Online Materials.”
A. O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1936.
Although more a work of intellectual than environmental history, Lovejoy’s book is still the definitive account of the Chain of Being’s influence on science, literature and religion in early modern Europe. Lovejoy’s analysis of the transformations and mutations of the Chain of Being over the course of the 17th- and 18th-centuries reveals that, despite its hierarchical nature, the concept did more to shrink the distance between humans and non-humans than to confer human beings with imperial power over nature.
Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500–1800. New York: Oxford UP, 1983.
Among the most important environmental histories of early modern England, Man and the Natural World traces the various shifts in beliefs, practices and attitudes towards animals and plants from the end of the medieval period through the start of the Industrial Revolution. Thomas uses historical, religious and literary sources to link growing concern for conservation of wild spaces and increasingly sympathetic attitudes towards animals to the rise of modern science and urbanization.
Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas. New York: Cambridge UP, 1985.
While Worster perpetuates an oversimplified view of 18th-century environmental thought by dividing the period’s natural philosophers into two camps, eco-friendly “Arcadians” and exploitative “Imperialists,” he also offers an influential account of the development of environmental thought from the 18th to the 20th century. Worster’s analyses of Gilbert White’s Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne and the early modern concept of “natural economy” are good jumping-off points for a discussion of use and science in 18th-century portrayals of nature.
Richard Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860. New York: Cambridge UP, 1996.
Richard Grove asserts that a combination of cultural and ecological transformations in the 18th century resulted in the emergence of an early form of what we label environmental conservationism. According to Grove, the rapid deforestation of island colonies such as Mauritius and St. Helena during the mid-18th century led to erosion, repeated droughts and consistent shortages in potable water. These crises, when combined with new climatic theories that linked forests to rainfall and a groundswell of interest in natural history brought about by the steady flow of specimens from the colonies to the intellectual centers of Europe, led some French and English colonist-naturalists to develop a newfound sense of urgency to preserve as much non-human life as possible.
Welcome to the Anthropocene
The work of a collaboration among climate scientists, sustainability activists and international environmentalist NGOs, this site offers images, graphics and short essays illustrating key climate change concepts such as the Anthropocene, the Great Acceleration, earth systems and climate tipping points. An extensive and compelling gallery of images illustrates the effects of urbanization and ecological degradation around the world. In addition, the site features a short video narrating the shift from the Holocene to the Anthropocene using clear lay language and compelling images. The video begins, handily, in England in the mid-18th-century.
Romantic Natural History
Despite its title, Romantic Natural History covers much of the 18th-century, offering information on naturalists and writers active between 1750 and 1850. The site includes brief biographical sketches of writers including James Thomson, John Dyer, Thomas Gray, Thomas Warton, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Charlotte Smith, William Cowper and Robert Burns, as well as essays on the lives and works of naturalists including Linnaeus, Erasmus Darwin and Gilbert White. A timeline and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources give professors and students an excellent starting point for research papers and supplemental readings.
Environmental History Resources
In addition to an extensive archive of podcasts, videocasts and essays on topics related to the general field of environmental history, EHR offers extensive bibliographies of print and electronic resources. Perhaps the most useful of these resources for the purposes of an 18th-century English ecocriticism course are the Basic Reading List (http://www.eh-resources.org/bibliography/biblio_basic.html), intended as a general introduction to the field, and the bibliography of British environmental history (http://www.eh-resources.org/bibliography/biblio_british.html). An interactive timeline (http://www.eh-resources.org/timeline/timeline.html) provides brief snapshots of the climatic and cultural changes that characterized 18th-century events such as the Little Ice Age and the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions.
Digital Defoe is a public, subscription-free digital resource on the works of Daniel Defoe and his contemporaries. It contains traditional scholarly work such as articles and book reviews as well as essays on pedagogy, the present and future state of 18th-century studies, and personal reflections on teaching and scholarship. An excellent resource for ideas on how to approach teaching the literature of the period to students often unfamiliar with it.
The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
The official site of ASLE, the international scholarly organization dedicated ecocriticism. The site’s “Resources” page (http://www.asle.org/site/resources/) features an extensive database of syllabi on environmental subjects across a number of disciplines, including English literature. Other resources include an online bibliography, a library of introductory works on ecocriticism available in electronic formats, and links to discussion lists, calls for papers, and other environmental associations around the world.
Anthologies and Print Sources for Primary Works
Most of the poetry included in the following syllabus is available in Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology, eds. David Fairer and Christine Gerrard (2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004) or British Women Poets of the Long Eighteenth Century, eds. Paula R. Backscheider and Catherine E. Ingrassia (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2009). Poems not found in these anthologies have been indicated with an asterisk, and can be distributed in a course pack or as PDFs or handouts. Where possible, I have included at least one source for all works not available either in one of these anthologies or in a readily-available modern edition.
Bridget Keegan’s and James C. McKusick’s Literature and Nature: Four Centuries of Nature Writing (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001) is sadly out of print, but the table of contents of its 18th-century section offers an excellent cross-section of authors and works, and if available, would be a good source of materials for a course pack. Ashton Nichols’s anthology Romantic Natural Histories (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004) contains selections from Gilbert White, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Erasmus Darwin and others. (Nichols also edits the website Romantic Natural Histories; see “Online Materials” above.) Judith Hawley’s eight-volume collection Literature and Science: 1660–1834 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2003–2004) contains excerpts from period writing on diverse scientific subjects as well as excerpts from works by Robert Hooke, Charlotte Smith, Erasmus Darwin.
Sample Reading Schedule
Introduction: What does environmentalism have to do with the 18th century?
Week 1: “Welcome to the Anthropocene” video at http://www.anthropocene.info/en/home
Erin Drew and John Sitter, ‘Ecocriticism and Eighteenth-Century Studies.’Literature Compass 8/5 (2011): 227–39; Christopher Hitt, ‘Ecocriticism and the Long Eighteenth Century.’
Alexander Pope, Windsor-Forest; Anna Seward, “Sonnet LXIII: To Colebrooke Dale” and Colebrook Dale
Suggested Background Reading:
Fabien Locher and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, ‘Modernity’s Frail Climate: A Climate History of Environmental Reflexivity.’
Tropes and Traditions (of Nature)
Week 2: Pastoral vs. Georgic
Alexander Pope, “A Discourse on Pastoral Poetry”* and “Summer”*; John Gay, “Friday: or, the Dirge”; Mary Leapor, “Mira’s Picture. A Pastoral”
Virgil, Book II of Georgics, 1697 John Dryden translation*
Suggested Background Reading:
David Fairer, “Pastoral and Georgic” from English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century: 1700–1789, 79–101; Fairer, “‘Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air”: The World of Eco-Georgic,’; Greg Garrard, “Classical Pastoral” and “Pastoral Ecology” from Ch. 3 and “Georgic” from Ch. 6 of Ecocriticism (2nd ed.), 38–44, 63–65 and 117–22.
Week 3: Alexander Pope, Essay on Man*
Suggested Background Reading:
A. O. Lovejoy, Ch. 6, “The Chain of Being in 18th-Century Thought, and Man’s Place and Role in Nature,”The Great Chain of Being, 183–207; Wendell Berry, pp. 126–49 of “Poetry and Place” from Standing by Words (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983, 92–199).
Week 4: The Poetry of Natural Description I: The Seasons
James Thomson, Spring from Seasons
Suggested Background Reading:
Heather Keenleyside, ‘Personification for the People: On James Thomson’s The Seasons.’ELH 76.2 (2009): 447–72.
Week 5: The Poetry of Natural Description II: Hill and Meditation Poems
John Dyer, “Grongar Hill”; Ann Yearsley, “Clifton Hill”; Anne Finch, “A Nocturnal Rêverie”; William Collins, “Ode to Evening”; Thomas Warton, “Ode to Evening”; Anna Letitia Barbauld, “A Summer Evening’s Meditation”
Week 6: The Sublime and the Picturesque
Edmund Burke, Part I, Sections VI-VII and XIII-XV, Part II, Sections I-VIII, XIII, Part III, Sections XII-XVIII and Part IV, Sections V-VIII of Origin of the Idea of the Sublime and Beautiful
William Gilpin, Section III of Observations on the River Wye
Ann Radcliffe, Ch. 1–6 of The Mysteries of Udolpho
Note on Texts:
Instructors who wish to teach a complete novel rather than excerpts could condense and/or remove the excerpts of Burke and Gilpin. Radcliffe’s Romance of the Forest and The Italian are both slightly shorter than Udolpho, and both contain excellent examples of sublime and picturesque aesthetics.
Gilpin’s Observations on the River Wye is available on ECCO and Google Books. A different excerpt, describing Tintern Abbey, is also available as part of the Norton Anthology of Romantic Literature’s Texts and Contexts materials. The excerpt is available at http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/romantic/topic_1/riverwye.htm.
Suggested Background Reading:
David Miall, ‘Representing the Picturesque: William Gilpin and the Laws of Nature.’ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 12.2 (2005): 75–93; James Kirwan, “Vicarious Edification: Radcliffe and the Sublime” from Greening of Literary Scholarship: Literature, Theory, and the Environment, ed. Steven Rosendale, Iowa City, IA: U of Iowa P, 2002, 224–45.
In addition, Kevin Hutchings’‘Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies’ includes an analysis of ecocritical debates about the picturesque, and Hutchings’ and Charity Matthews’‘Teaching and Learning Guide for Ecocriticism in British Romantic Studies’ has excellent suggestions for additional background readings on late 18th-century aesthetics.
Expanding Worlds: Science and Colonialism
Week 7: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Suggested Background Reading:
Richard Grove, “Introduction” and Ch. 4, “Stephen Hales and Some Newtonian Antecedents of Climatic Environmentalism, 1700–1763” from Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860, 1–16 and 153–68.
Week 8: Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
Robert Hooke, “Of the Head of a Fly” and “Of a Flea” from Micrographia (1665) and “The Present State of Natural Philosophy” in The Posthumous Works of Robert Hooke (1705), pp. 3–7 and 19–21.
Note on Texts:
Micrographia is available on ECCO, EEBO and Google Books. “The Present State of Natural Philosophy” is available on ECCO. Alternately, the recommended extracts of “Present State” are also available in Volume 1 of Literature and Science: 1660–1834 (Science as Polite Culture, eds. Cheryce Kramer, Trea Martyn and Michael Newton), 19–28. A different extract of Micrographia, “Of the Water-Insect, or Gnat” is available in Volume 5 (Fauna, ed. David Clifford), 1–13.
Week 9: James Grainger, The Sugar-Cane Books I and IV*
Note on Texts:
James Gilmore’s The Poetics of Empire: A Study of James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane (New Brunswick, NJ: The Athlone Press, 2000) contains both a modern critical edition of the poem and a lengthy and insightful critical essay. In addition, complete versions of the poem are available on ECCO and Google Books.
Suggested Background Reading:
Gilmore, pp. 21–35 and 54–65 of “Introduction” in The Poetics of Empire; David Fairer, ‘A Caribbean Georgic: James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane.’Kunapipi 25.1 (2003): 21–8.
Week 10: Natural History in Literature
Erasmus Darwin, Canto 1 of Loves of the Plants*; Charlotte Smith, Beachy Head*; Gilbert White, excerpts from The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne*
Note on Texts:
Loves of the Plants is available on ECCO and Google Books as the second part of The Botanic Garden. The complete text of The Botanic Garden is also available from Project Gutenberg.
Brief, representative excerpts from White are available in Keegan and McKusick, eds., Literature and Nature: Four Centuries of Nature Writing, 314–22; or Ashton Nichols, ed., Romantic Natural Histories, 29–50.
Suggested Background Reading:
Keith Thomas, Ch. 5 “Trees and Flowers” from Man and the Natural World, 192–241; Donald Worster, Ch. 1, “Science in Arcadia” from Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 1–26.
Women and Nature (Ecofeminism)
This unit is structured differently from the others in this course. The primary readings will mostly be excerpts from works of ecofeminist scholarship. The theories and methodologies practiced in those readings can then be applied in classroom discussion and/or written assignments to some of the texts that students read in prior weeks. This prompts students to engage with ecofeminism as a methodology that can be applied to any text, regardless of the gender of its author. Structuring the unit this way can also avoid the problem of relegating women writers to a unit by themselves, where their contributions to and conjunctions with their literary contemporaries of both genders might be occluded.
Week 11: (Re)Reading Ecofeminism
Val Plumwood, “Introduction” and Chapter 1, “Feminism and Ecofeminism” from Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, 1–40; Sylvia Bowerbank, “Introduction” and “Defending Local Places: Anna Seward as Environmental Writer” from Speaking for Nature: Women and Ecologies of Early Modern England, 1–23 and 161–87.
Texts to Revisit and Compare: Pope’s Windsor-Forest and Seward’s Colebrook Dale; Dyer’s “Grongar Hill” and Yearsley’s “Clifton Hill”; Finch’s “A Nocturnal Rêverie” and/or Barbauld’s “A Summer Evening’s Meditation” and Collins’s and/or Warton’s “Ode to Evening”
Week 12: Women’s Work: Poetic, Scientific, Domestic
Donna Landry, ‘Green Languages? Women Poets as Naturalists in 1653 and 1807’; Anne Milne, “Introduction: ‘The Captive Linnet’ and the F(l)ight of the ‘Natural Genius’ ” from “Lactilla Tends Her Fav’rite Cow”: Ecocritical Readings of Animals and Women in Eighteenth-Century British Labouring-Class Women’sPoetry, 13–32.
Additional Primary Texts: Leapor, “Man the Monarch”; Mary Collier, “The Woman’s Labour”
Texts to Revisit and Compare: the role of science in description in Thomson’s Spring, Darwin’s Temple of Nature and Charlotte Smith’s Beachy Head; Pope’s “Summer” and Leapor’s “Mira’s Picture”
Animals: Cruelty and Compassion
Week 13: Humans and Non-Humans
Alexander Pope, Guardian no. 61, May 21, 1713*; Cowper, “Epitaph on a Hare”* and “The Cock-Fighter’s Garland”*; Charlotte Smith, “The Hedgehog Seen in a Frequented Path”; Anna Letitia Barbauld, “The Mouse’s Petition” and “The Caterpillar”; Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”; Jane Cave Winscom, “A Poem for Children On Cruelty to the Irrational Creation”
Week 14: The Ethics of Animal-on-Animal Violence
Mary Savage, “The Disaster”; Thomas Gray, “Ode on the Death of a Favorite Cat”; William Cowper, “On a Spaniel Called Beau, Killing a Young Bird, July 15th, 1793”* and “Beau’s Reply”*; Helen Maria Williams, “The Linnet”; John Aikin and Anna Letitia Barbauld, “What Animals Are Made For?” and “The History and Adventures of a Cat” from Evenings at Home
Suggested Background Reading for Weeks 13 and 14:
Keith Thomas, Ch. 4, “Compassion for the Brute Creation,” in Man and the Natural World, 143–91; David Perkins, Ch. 1, “In the Beginning of Animal Rights” in Romanticism and Animal Rights (New York: Cambridge UP, 2003), 1–19; Tobias Menely, ‘Animal Signs and Ethical Significance: Expressive Creatures in the British Georgic.’Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 39.4 (2006): 111–8; Richard Nash, “Animal Nomenclature: Facing Other Animals” (Frank Palmeri, ed., Humans and Other Animals in Eighteenth-Century British Culture: Representation, Hybridity, Ethics. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006), 101–18.