Literature and Nature

The natural environment fulfills a variety of roles in literature. It can at once be a site of inspiration, a backdrop to anxiety, a portal to fantasy or a mirror to the self. Likewise, literature can help us to gain a better understanding of nature, such as when science fiction explores environmental crises and solutions to them, or tragedy tries to get at the heart of what it means to be human, or an animal or something in between.

This intensive co-taught course is structured around four themes, each one designed to promote in-depth exploration of the complex interactive relationship between literature and nature. Across eight weeks we will be reading works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Goethe, Defoe, Kafka, and Thoreau, as well as a selection of more contemporary works, including science fiction. At the same time, we will be putting these literary examples into contact with philosophical materials that problematize our relationship to the natural world, such as critical climate change studies, feminist theories, indigenous theories, geo-aesthetics and critical animal studies.

Anne Mulhall:

In 2016-2017 Anne Mulhall was Artemis A.W. and Martha Joukowsky Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Literature at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. She completed a PhD in Comparative Literature (Cultural and Critical Theory focus) at King's College London in December 2015. She has an MA in Comparative Literature from New York University and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin, where she also completed her BA in English and Philosophy. Her current work addresses a series of questions surrounding the culture of information, work, and human agency in contemporary European and US thought.