Nature Writing has a long history; in this module, however, we shall be looking at texts and genres from two key periods marked by a particular prominence of concern with nature, topography, the wild outdoors, ecology and the environment, to name but a few of the key terms pertinant to this field.
The seminar on “Romantic Nature Writing”, covering poetry and prose, is designed to offer an in-depth reading of key texts from Romantic nature writing by William and Dorothy Wordsworth, S. T. Coleridge, P. Shelley, W. Hazlitt and others. Investigating locodescriptive poems as well as essays on walking, we will address a broad range of issues and contexts such as modernization and angricultural reform, poverty, topography and memory, the Gothic, the Romantic imagination emerging from walking, and ‘Romantic subjectivity’.
The second seminar will explore “Contemporary Nature Writing”, or “new nature writing”. Programmatically announced in the eponymous issue of Granta magazine in 2007, it has evolved to become a hugely popular genre. At the same time, bestselling authors such as Robert Macfarlane, Kathleen Jamie and Helen Macdonald have not only been the subject of interesting new scholarship and theory but have also included reflections of their own on nature writing in the age of the anthropocene. While we shall study some of the key texts of New Nature Writing, among them Jamie’s Sightlines, Macdonald’s H is for Hawk, and a choice of shorter texts by Macfarlane, we shall also be exploring nature writing in magazines and blogs.