Against the idea that Enlightenment science fatally divided humans from the natural world, this course traces an early-modern history of environmentalism and environmental ethics, mostly in British contexts. We will explore ethical, historical, aesthetic, scientific, ethnographic, and political questions in a variety of literary genres (a lot of poetry!) -- along the way engaging critical perspectives from environmental ethicists / ecophilosophers, literary ecocritics, and post-colonial theorists.
- What did "nature" mean to Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries, and how was it valued (using 'value' in both the affective and economic senses)?
- How did writers imagine human relations with non-human others, and what literary genres did they see as appropriate for exploring these? What did (does) it mean to 'speak for' nature?
- How did Europeans see 'nature' as different in the stories they set in their circum-Caribbean colonized outposts?
We'll end by looking at how and why some 18th-c. stories about human/non-human relations have been retold by later writers.