ECOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO MIDDLE ENGLISH LITERATURE
Professor Carolyn Dinshaw
This course has twin objectives, one building on the other:
First, it will explore the emerging field of ecocriticism by reading works of philosophy, history, political theory, environmental studies, cultural studies, and literary criticism and theory. Readings will include works by Martin Heidegger, Raymond Williams, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Timothy Morton, Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, Arne Naess, Cary Wolfe, and Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson.
Second, it will consider some (mostly late) medieval English texts with an eye focused by this ecocritical reading. In the medieval texts we will necessarily engage some conventional topoi (the goddess Natura, the Former Age, earthly paradise, New Jerusalem, etc.), discover modes of interdependence between the human and the non-human, and consider hybrid forms of life. Readings will include De Planctu Natura (The Complaint of Nature), The Book of John Mandeville, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the Parliament of Fowls.
Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment in Britain
Visiting Professor Henry Abelove
In this course we will focus on a set of closely related British non-fiction prose works of the middle to late eighteenth century, especially as they treat empire, sexuality, and religiosity. Our approach will include both formal and historical analysis. Several short papers will be required; a research paper will be optional. Principal readings will be drawn from David Hume’s ethical writings, Jonathan Swift’s writings on British imperialism in Ireland, Samuel Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, James Boswell’s London Journal, Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, John Wesley’s Sermons and Journals, and Edmund Burke’s Letter to a Noble Lord and his parliamentary speeches on British imperialism in India. Class meetings will be discussion-based.
Students will be expected to acquire these four paperback books: Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and Journal of A Tour to the Hebrides, ed. Peter Levi, Penguin English Classics; Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. Womersley, Penguin Classics; James Boswell, Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-1763, ed. Pottle, Yale University Press; Edmund Burke, On Empire, Liberty, and Reform: Edmund Burke’s Speeches and Letters, ed. Bromwich, Yale University Press.