Module Identifier EN37920  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator To Be Arranged  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 2 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
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

Problem_solving By critical engagement with intellectual concepts.  
Research skills By preparation for written assessments.  
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  
Team work By class presentations.  
Information Technology Use of (eg.) PowerPoint in class presentations; use of Blackboard for dissemination of module information.  
Application of Number n/a  
Personal Development and Career planning n/a  
Subject Specific Skills The analysis of literary texts, both by classroom discussion and written assessments. ASSESSED refers to WRITTEN skils only  

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Ackroyd, Peter Hawksmoor London: Penguin, 2002 0140171134
Ballard, J. G The Drought London: Flamingo, 2001 0007115180
Barron, W.R.J., ed. & trans Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Revised Edition) Manchester: Manchester UP, 1998 0719055172
Buell, Lawrence (2003) Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 0674012321
Hardy, Thomas (1994) Tess of the D?Urbervilles (Penguin Popular Classics) London: Penguin, 1994 0140620206
Hughes, Ted (1995) Season Songs (Revised Edition) London: Faber 0571137032
Oswald, Alice (2003) Dart London: Faber 057121861X
Shelley, Mary (1994) Frankenstein (Penguin Popular Classics) London: Penguin 0140620303
** Recommended Consultation
Buell, Lawrence (1995) The Environmental Imagination Cambridge, MA: Belknap
Coupe, Lawrence, ed (2000) The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism London: Routledge
Empson, William (1935) Some Versions of Pastoral London: Chatto & Windus
Gifford, Terry (1995) Green Voices: Understanding Contemporary Nature Poetry Manchester: Manchester University Press
Gifford, Terry (1999) Pastoral (The New Critical Idiom) London: Routledge
Kerridge, Richard and Neil Sammels, eds (1998) Writing the Environment: Ecocriticism and Literature London: Zed
Marx, Leo (2000) The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America London: Oxford
Parham, John (2002) The Environmental Tradition in English Literature Aldershot: Ashgate
Soper, Kate (1995) What is Nature? Oxford: Blackwell

(1993 ON) ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment Reno, NV: Association for the Study of Literature and Environment


This module is at CQFW Level 6