Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment ESSAY 1: 2,500 WORDS  50%
Semester Assessment ESSAY 2: 2,500 WORDS  50%
Supplementary Assessment MAKE GOOD ANY FAILED ELEMENTS  Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate awareness of the engagement between environmental concern and American literature since the 1960s;

2. explain how a variety of issues to do with the nonhuman world are negotiated and represented in literary texts;

3. demonstrate an ability to define the concept of `nature?, especially in relation to its literary representations;

4. demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and practice of ecocritical approaches to literary analysis


This module provides the opportunity for students to engage with a range of environmentally-concerned American literature from the 1960s onwards. In so doing, it will draw attention to those ecological and / or environmental aspects of literature which are often elided by more established theoretical traditions. The module will thus seek to introduce students to the developing literary-critical practice of ecocriticism

Brief description

American literature is deeply bound up with notions of land and environment. In recent years, this has become manifest in literatures which, in one way or another, offer expressions of ecological concern. Concentrating mainly on fiction, this module seeks to address a variety of environmentally-engaged American literature produced since the 1960s. The module will seek to place such material within the context both of recent green politics and of discussions about the nature of `nature?. The module will also aim to develop awareness of a range of environmental issues in literature ? and will thus introduce students to the emerging literary-critical practice of ecocriticism


1. Introduction: Political and Theoretical Positions
Brief extracts from Kate Soper, What is Nature? (1995), Andrew Dobson, Green Political Thought (3rd edition, 2000), and Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm, eds. The Ecocriticism Reader. These will be used to introduce students to the concept of nature, to a diversity of green political positions, and to some basic ecocritical ideas. (Note: these texts will also provide relevant extracts of critical-theoretical material over the rest of the module to supplement the main reading for each week.)

2. Recognising Crisis
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962).

3. Imagining Dystopia
Ursula Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven (1971)

4. The Possibility of Utopia
Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (1975)

5. Activism
Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)

6. Use and Abuse of Place
Carl Hiaasen, Tourist Season (1986)

7. Environment and Capital
John Grisham, The Pelican Brief (1992)

8. The Frontier
Molly Gloss, Wild Life (2000)

9. Contemporary Pastoral?
Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer (2001)

10. Conclusion: Environmental Visions
What key environmental themes run through the various texts studied on this module? How (variously) is the concept of nature itself presented? What political approaches to environmental problems ? if any ? seem to dominate the texts we have studied? What should a viable ecocritical approach to literature look like?


Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Written: clear articulation of ideas and analysis in written assessments. Verbal: class presentations and interaction ASSESSED refers to WRITTEN skils only
Improving own Learning and Performance By independent research
Information Technology Use of (eg.) PowerPoint in class presentations; use of Blackboard for dissemination of module information.
Personal Development and Career planning n/a
Problem solving By critical engagement with intellectual concepts.
Research skills By preparation for written assessments.
Subject Specific Skills The analysis of literary texts, both by classroom discussion and written assessments. ASSESSED refers to WRITTEN skils only
Team work By class presentations.


This module is at CQFW Level 6