Syllabus History 357

Submitted by Robert M. Schwartz (inactive) on Tuesday, 9/13/2011, at 9:36 AM

History 357. Environmental History: Ecological Thinking and Practice in Europe

1500 to the Present

Fall 2011

Robert Schwartz

Office Hours:

206 Skinner (MHC)

To be arranged




Required Books available for purchase:


Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Norton pb)

Joachim Radkau, Nature and Power. A Global History of the Environment (Cambridge UP pb, 2008)

James Winter, Secure from Rash Assault. Sustaining the Victorian Environment. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999)


Course Reading on Electronic Reserve indicated as (ER)

Course Reading in packet (P)


Course Requirements (approximate weight in course grade)

  1. Attendance at all classes, a number of oral presentations, and informed participation in discussions. (20%)
  2. Two 1-2 page abstracts of the required readings. (10%)
  3. Three lab reports. (30%) Each of the lab reports will build a component of your essay in 4 below.
  4. An essay that integrates your reading and research with a GIS analysis of agricultural land use in Great Britain (15to 20 pages). (Key parts of the essay will be presented orally) (40%) Complete draft DUE December 7; final due by the end of the exam period.


Useful web sites (a 200 level version of this course in 2008) reports my research done under an NEH grant and contains a section with student papers, including Amherst students who have studied with me before.


Schedule of Topics and Readings


Conceptions of Nature and Environmental Change from Antiquity to the Enlightenment


Sept. 14

Introduction to Environmental History and GIS


Sept. 21


Schwartz, “Teaching Environmental History.  (ER)

Richards, John F. "Climate and Early Modern World Environmental History." In The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003): 58-88. (ER)

Richards, John F. “Land Transformation,” in Turner, The Earth as Transformed, chap. 10 (163-178). (P)

Plato, “Eroded Attica.” (P)

Ovid, “The Man from Samos.” (P)

Francis Bacon, “New Atlantis” (1627). (P)

G. Agricola, “In defense of mining the earth” (1556). (P)


Post on the Web Forum by an abstract of one secondary reading (individual assignments to be made) (ungraded)


Nature as Servant and Muse: Thinking and Practice in the 18th century.


Sept. 28


Blackbourn, David. "Conquests from Barbarism." Taming Nature in Frederick the Great's Prussia." In Nature in German History, edited by Christof Mauch. New York, 2004. (P)

Adam Smith, “Philosophic Calm” from “The Principles Which Lead and Direct Philosophical Enquiries, illustrated by the History of Astronomy,” ca. 1750; and “Of the Beauty Which the appearance of Utility Bestows upon all the Productions of Art, and of the Extensive Influence of this Species of Beauty,” from The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, pp. 295-300. (P)


Jean-Jacques Rousseau, selections on Nature; The Reveries of a Solitary Walker (ca. 1774-76), selection.  (P)

Charleton, chap. 2, Pastoral Landscapes. (P)

William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” (1790). (P)


Written Work

Due by class time.


Abstract on either Charleton, “Wild Sublimity”or Blackbourn. Describe a connection with either Smith or Rousseau. Post before class. GRADED

Oct. 5


The Romantic Turn toward Nature

W. Wordsworth, “Above Tintern Abbey,” from Lyrical Ballads, 1798, with an introductory note. (P)

Shelley, Frankenstein, Book I


Oct. 12

Written work

Shelley, Frankenstein, Book II –end.

Reviews of Frankenstein: Quarterly Review (Jan. 1818); Edinburgh Magazine (March 1818) in the Norton Critical Edition of Frankenstein.

Abstract of Shelley as it relates to conceptions of nature. Post before class. GRADED


Nature Geared to Steam: The Industrial Revolution and Environmental Change in Britain


Oct. 19


Alexis de Tocqueville, “Manchester,” from Journeys to England and Ireland, 1835, pp. 117-19, in Clayre (read introductory note for section VIII, pp. xxv-xxvi). (P)

Ure, “The Blessings of the Factory System,” from The Philosophy of Manufactures, 1835, pp. 67-72, in Clayre (optional: read introductory note for section V, pp. xxiv-xxv).  (P)

Winter, Secure from Rash Assault, Introduction, Conclusion, chaps. 1 & 3 (Lowland Fields).

Oct. 26






Written work

The Victorians and the Environment: The City and the Country

Winter, Secure from Rash Assault, either chap. 7 Holes or chap. 8 Heaps, chap. 9 The City in the Country.

Optional: chap. 10 Greening the City, 11 The Environment of Leisure, 12 The Hungry Ocean.

Douglas, Ian, Rob Hodgson, and Nigel Lawson. "Industry, Environment and Health through 200 Years in Manchester." Ecological Economics 41, no. 2 (2002): 235 ff.  (P)

Lab report due on Friday, Send by email attachment. (Ungraded)

Nov. 2










Written work

Industrial Technology: The Railroad

Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey. Trains and Travel in the 19th Century, chap. 3 “Railroad Space and Railroad Time,”and chap. 12 “Tracks in the City.” (P)

Optional: chap. 4 Panoramic Travel.

Winter, Secure from Rash Assault, chap. 6 Cutting New Channels

R. Schwartz, “Railways and Population Change in Industrializing England,”

chapter 1. (P)


R Schwartz, “Railways and Population Change in Industrializing England,”

chapter 2. (P)

Lab report due on Friday, Send by email attachment. (Graded)

Nov. 9









Written work

Globalization, Agriculture, and Land use

Coclanis, Peter A. "Back to the Future: The Globalization of Agriculture in Historical Context." SAIS Review 23, no. 1 (2003): 71-84. (ER)

R. M. Schwartz, Rail Transport, Agrarian Crisis, and the Restructuring of Agriculture: France and Great Britain Confront Globalization, 1860-1900,” Social Science History (June 2010) (ER)


Further Reading

R. Schwartz, “Railways and Population Change in Industrializing England,” chapter V (P)

Lab report due on Friday, Send by email attachment. (Graded)


Nov. 16







Agrarian Crisis

Harding, Jeremy. "What We’re about to Receive." London Review of Books 32 no. 9 (2010): 3-8. (P)

Avner Offer,  The First World War, An Agrarian Interpretation, chaps. 6,7,8. (P)



Melissa Joyce, “Industrialisation and Environmental History in Victorian England: Wolverhampton, Wolverton and The Railroad,” International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 2008  [a revised and expanded version of her paper for History 256 in the fall 2005.] (P)

Lab report due on Friday, Send by email attachment. (Graded)



November 19-27

Nov. 30

Environmental Issues in the British Parliamentary Papers Extended Lab

Excerpts from the Royal Commissions on Agricultural Depression, to be assigned.


Optional. Darwin: Man in Nature

Peter Marshall, “Darwinism and the Web of Life,” chap. 23 in Nature’s Web. An Exploration of Ecological Thinking (New York, 1992). (P)




Dec. 7

Class Presentations


Dec. 14

William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness: or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature,” from Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (New York, 1996). (P)

John McNeill, Historical Perspectives on Global Ecology. (P)

Harkinson, Josh, “What’s Your Water Footprint,”Mother Jones, Jul/Aug2009, Vol. 34, Issue 4. (ER)