HUMS 377, Nature Poetry, from the Classics to Climate Change

Meeting Time: 
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

Course Description:

This is a course on poetry of the natural world, beginning with classical pastoral and ending with lyric responses to climate change. We will consider how poetry attempts to make sense of our interaction with the earth at important moments of change, from pre-industrial agriculture to global capitalism and the Anthropocene. We’ll pause over the beginnings of ecological consciousness in the Enlightenment and Romantic era, consider ideas of nature in modernist poetics, and look closely at how contemporary poets address environmental catastrophe and renewal. Poets will come from a diversity of traditions and communities and will include indigenous and minority perspectives.


Led By:

Jonathan Kramnick's picture

Professor Jonathan Kramnick

My research and teaching is in eighteenth-century literature and philosophy, philosophical approaches to literature, and cognitive science and the arts. I am the author of three books. My new book, Paper Minds: Literature and the Ecology of Consciousness (Chicago, 2018), shortlisted for the Christian Gauss Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Association, asks what distinctive knowledge the literary disciplines and literary form can contribute to discussions of perceptual consciousness, created and natural environments, and skilled engagement with the world. Portions have appeared in Critical InquiryRepresentations, and elsewhere. Before that, Actions and Objects from Hobbes to Richardson (Stanford, 2010) considered representations of mind and material objects along with theories of action during the long eighteenth century. And before that, Making the English Canon: Print Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700-1770 (Cambridge, 1999) examined the role of criticism and aesthetic theory in the creation of a national literary tradition. I publish regularly in the Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere on professional issues in literary studies and continue to write and think about form and method. My current book project in the eighteenth century is on Alexander Pope, William Cowper, and the poetics of designed environments. Finally, I’m director of the Lewis Walpole Library and the editor (with Steven Pincus) of the Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History for Yale University Press.