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Topics in 16th-Century History and Culture: Early Modern Natures

ENGL 730.401
crosslisted as: COML 730
Monday 12-3:00

This course will consider the conflicting discourses of nature and natural history circulating in England from approximately 1550 to 1700 in the broader context of recent developments in ecocriticism and ecotheory. Critical and theoretical readings will cover a range of topics, from Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City to recent writings on ecofeminist theory, animal studies, and “thing theory.” The texts to be covered will include: the eclogue and the georgic (Virgil and Spenser); the nature of the New World (Hariot, Raleigh, and Shakespeare's The Tempest); garden poems (Marvell, Lanyer, and Jonson) and horticultural  manuals (Tusser, Lawson, and Markham);  technical works on manipulating nature, especially "secrets" and recipe books;  and philosophical works (Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica, and Bacon'sAdvancement of Learning). Everyone in the course will undertake an independent research project to be presented as a conference paper in a "mini-conference" at the course's end and as a formal paper.  Additional bibliographic exercises will be assigned in the course of the semester.