Fall 2014

Nature and the Imagination in the Romantic Age

Listed in: English, as ENGL-343

Moodle site: Course


Amelia S. Worsley (Section 01)


Can reading poetry change our understanding of our environment?  How might the way we perceive nature be conditioned by the ways in which writers have imagined it?  In turn, how might the way we perceive our own imaginations be conditioned by ideas about the natural world?

This course questions how literature, especially the poetry of early nineteenth-century Britain, understands the relationship between nature, culture and the imagination. We will read the writings of William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Smith, Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley, alongside seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writings about nature and Enlightenment theories of the imagination by Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant.  Finally, we will consider what impact these different ideas have had on contemporary environmental discourse and debate some recent ecocritical theories.  Would it be more environmentally responsible, for instance, to get rid of the Romantic concept of “nature” altogether, and use a term like ecology instead?  Is the Romantics’ reverence for nature more destructive than it might at first seem?

Fall semester.  Professor Worsley.


2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014