Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG455H1S L0201

ENG455H1S    L0201    W2-4
Advanced Studies Group 4: Earl Modern "Green" Literature
Clare Duncan
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, TBA

Brief Description of Course: This seminar will explore the green spaces and bodies of early modern literature and science, focusing especially on moments when humans and nature interact and possibly even blend together. In this class, we will read literary works alongside excerpts from scientific treatises in order to examine how the early moderns understood the green world and the gendered bodies it contained. Along the way, we will ask many questions, including what does it mean when Nature is feminized? Why do lovers carve poetry onto trees? What does the horticultural practice of grafting have to do with genealogy? How can poetic flowers be medicinal? And is gardening violent? We may find that this ecological branch of literary studies is particularly vital to pursue in our own moment of environmental crisis: looking back to early modern English literary and scientific treatises may reveal familiar anxieties about air and water quality, questions about climate change (the period is often termed the Little Ice Age) and resource scarcity, and concerns about how to grow plants for food, medicine, or to create green space in an increasingly industrial country. By studying early modern texts that show points of contact between humans and nature we may be able to help illuminate our own struggles today to understand the relationship between humans and the environment in the Anthropocene.
Required Reading: Selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Petrarch’s Canzoniere (in translation); selected sonnets by Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, and Wroth; Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Winter’s Tale; Lyly’s Love’s Metamorphosis; selections from Sidney’s Old Arcadia and Wroth’s Urania; Whitney’s A Sweet Nosgay; country house poems by Lanyer, Jonson, and Marvell; Milton’s A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle and selections from Paradise Lost; Marvell’s “Mower” poems, “The Nymph Complaining,” and “The Garden”; Carew’s “A Rapture”; selections from early modern English gardening manuals, horticultural treatises, scientific texts, and herbals; articles and chapters by early modern ecocritics

Method of Evaluation: Discussion Facilitation and Active and Informed Participation (30%);250-word Secondary Source Annotation (10%);500-word Research Paper Proposal (10%);2,500-3,000-word Research Paper (50%).

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