20149 LP: Literature and the Environment in 18th-Century Britain

This course will focus on eighteenth-century literature that engages us with the nonhuman environment—with the plants, animals, and elements, the landscapes and the climates that surround and shape human life. We will range widely in genres from nature poetry and travel writing to natural history and the novel, reflecting throughout on the ways in which nature may be cultivated, improved, or imported from elsewhere – not something opposed to human culture but wholly tied up with it. Together, we will ask: how do ideas of nature look different in the city, the country, or the colonies? And crucially, what might eighteenth century understandings of the relationship between human beings and the natural world have to tell us our own moment of ecological entanglement and crisis? The course will draw on the resources of London and its environs, likely to include Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum, the Sloane House, and Tate Britain. (1650-1830)

2018-2019 Autumn