Literature and Environmental Studies

Literature and Environmental Studies


Choose approximately 40 primary texts across several different periods and genres; other texts may be substituted or added with list-manager’s formal approval.




Aristotle, Politics

Bible, Genesis, selections, e. g., chaps. 1-33, Exodus

Herodotus, all or part

Homer, The Odyssey Books 8-12

Hesiod, Works and Days

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Books I and XV

Plato, Timaeus

Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Book VII

Tacitus, Germania and Agricola

Virgil, Eclogues and Georgics




Boccaccio, Decameron, proem

Chaucer, Parliament of Fowls

John Mandeville, Travels

“The Seafarer” and “The Wanderer”

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

16h - 18th Centuries

Bacon, Essays, selections, e. g., “Of Gardens,” “Of Plantations,” and Novum Organum

Sir Thomas Browne, Hydriotaphia and The Garden of Cyrus

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)

William Camden, Britannia, selections

Abraham Cowley, “Anacreontics,” Essays, selections, e. g. “Of Gardens” and “Of the Dangers of an Honest Man in Much Company,” Plantarum selections, e. g. Books V and VI

George Crabbe, “The Village” (1783) 

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

John Denham, Cooper’s Hill (1642)

Michael Drayton, Poly-Olbion, selections

John Evelyn, Fumifugium

John Gay, Trivia

George Herbert, selections

Robert Herrick, selections

William Harrison, “A Description of England”

Ben Jonson, “To Penshurst” (1616)

Aemilia Lanyer, “The Description of Cookham”

Michel de Montaigne, Essays, selections, e. g. “Of Solitude,” “Of Cannibals,” and “Of Coaches”

Thomas More, Utopia

Katherine Philips, selections, incl. “A Country Life”

John Milton, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso,” A Masque (Comus), “Lycidas,” Paradise Lost

Alexander Pope, Pastorals (1709), and “Discourse on Pastoral Poetry” (1717)

Jean Jacques Rousseau, Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1782)

Shakespeare, As You Like It, King Lear, Midsummer Night’s Dream,

Edmund Spenser, Shepheardes Calender; Faerie Queene, Books II, VI, and “Mutability Cantos”; View of the Present State of Ireland

James Thomson, The Seasons

Thomas Traherne, selections, verse and prose

Henry Vaughan, selections

Gilbert White, A Natural History of Selbourne

19th Century


John Clare, selections (10 or so lyrics, TBA)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, selections, e. g. “To a Young Ass” (1794), “The Eolian Harp” (1795), “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison” (1797), “Frost at Midnight” (1798), “The Nightingale” (1798), “Dejection: an Ode” (1802), chapters 4 and 12 from Biographia Literaria

Emily Dickinson, selections

Gerard Manly Hopkins, selections

John Keats, selections, e. g. “Ode to a Nightingale” (c. 1819), “To Autumn” (1820)

George Meredith, selections

Percy Bysshe Shelley, selections, e. g. “Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude” (1815), “Mont Blanc” (1817), “Ode to the West Wind” (1820), “The Sensitive Plant” (1820), “To a Skylark” (1820), “The Cloud” (1820)

Walt Whitman, selections, e. g. “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (1856), “Song of Myself” (1882), “This Compost” (1891), “Song of the Redwood-Tree” (1891)

William Wordsworth, selections, e. g. “The Thorn” (1798), “Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey” (1798), “Michael” (1800), “Nutting” (1800), “Three years she grew in sun and shower” (1800), “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge” (1807), “I wandered lonely as a Cloud” (1807), “The Ruined Cottage” (1814)

Prose fiction:

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, Shirley

Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891)

Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of Pointed Firs (1896)

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Prose non-fiction:

Susan Fennimore Cooper, Rural Hours

Charles Darwin, ch. IV “Natural Selection,” from The Origin of Species (1859)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature” (1836)

Friedrich Engels, “Introduction,” “The Great Towns,” and “The Agricultural Proletariat” from The Conditions of the Working Class (1845), Dialectic of Nature?

Frederick Turner Jackson, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893) Thomas Malthus, Essay on the Principle of Population

George P. Marsh, ch. 1, “Introduction” from Man and Nature; or, The Earth as Modified by Human Action (1864-1885)

Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or Life in the Woods (1854), “Walking” (1862)

Dorothy Wordsworth, Journals

20th Century and Contemporary


A.R. Ammons, selections, e. g. “So I Said I am Ezra” (1955), “Corsons Inlet” (1965), “Gravelly Run” (1965), “Laser” (1970), “Love Song” (1970), “Small Song” (1970), “The City Limits” (1971), “Easter Morning” (1981), “Motion’s Holding” (1987), “Strip,” “Hymn,” “Prodigal,” “One:Many,” “Terminus,” “Eyesight,” “The Wide Land,” GARBAGE (1992)

Robert Frost, selections, e. g. “Mending Wall” (1914), “After Apple-Picking,” (1914), “The Wood-Pile” (1914), “Hyla Brook” (1916), “The Oven Bird” (1916), “Birches” (1916), “Putting in the Seed” (1916), “Out, Out—” (1916), “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923), “To Earthward” (1923), “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things” (1923), “Tree at My Window” (1928), “Design” (1936), “The Most of It” (1942), “Never Again Would Birds’ Song Be the Same” (1942), “The Gift Outright” (1942)

Joy Harjo, selections, e. g. “She Had Some Horses” (1983), “Deer Dancer” (1990), “Mourning Song” (1994), “Insomnia and the Seven Steps to Grace” (1994), “The Path to the Milky Way Leads through Los Angeles” (2000) Gary Snyder, Turtle Island (1974)

Seamus Heaney, selections

Ted Hughes, selections

Wallace Stevens, selections

Edward Thomas, selections, verse & prose

Charles Wright, China Trace (1977)

Prose fiction:

Mary Austin, Land of Little Rain (1903)

Willa Cather, O Pioneers! (1913)

J.M. Coetzee, Foe, The Lives of Animals (1999)

William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses (1942)

Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2005)

Ursula Leguin, The Word for World Is Forest

Jack London, “To Build a Fire” (1908)

Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats (1998)

Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (1980)

Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977)

Karen Tei Yamashita, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990)

Prose non-fiction:

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire (1968)

Wendell Berry, “The Unsettling of America,” “The Body and the Earth,” “The Idea of a Local Economy,” from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry (2002)

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)

William Cronon, “Introduction and “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature,” from Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (1995)

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)

William O. Douglas, dissent, “Sierra Club v. Morton” (1972)

Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons” (1968)

John Muir, “God’s First Temples: How Shall We Preserve Our Forests?” (1876), “The Wild Parks and Forest Reservations of the West” (1898), My First Summer in the Sierra (1911)

Gifford Pinchot, introduction and chapters 1-4 from The Fight for Conservation (1910)

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Lynn White, Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” (1967)


Castaway (2000)

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)


Ecological thought (select six of the following):


Lawrence Buell, Writing for an Endangered World and The Environmental Imagination

Terry Comito, The Idea of the Garden in the Renaissance

Allen Carson, “Environmental Aesthetics,” from Aesthetics and the Environment: The Appreciation of Nature, Art and Architecture (2000)

Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism: The New Critical Idiom (2011)

Robert Pogue Harrison, Forests: The Shadow of Civilization (1992)

Martin Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology” (1954) and “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” (1951)

Ursula Heise, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Ecocriticism” (2006), “Globality, Difference, and the International Turn in Ecocriticism” (2013)

Annette Kolodny, The Lay of the Land and The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860

Bruno Latour, “Why Political Ecology has to Let Go of Nature” (2004)

Michael Leslie et al., Culture and Cultivation in Early Modern England: Writing and the Land

Arthur Lovejoy, “Some Meanings of ‘Nature’” (1935) and “Nature as Aesthetic Norm” (1927)

Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: technology and the pastoral ideal in America

Carolyn Merchant, “Nature as Female,” from The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (1980)

Timothy Morton, Ecology Without Nature (2007)

Arne Naess, “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement” (1973)

Roderick Nash, introduction to Wilderness and the American Mind (1967)

Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (2011)

Michael Pollan, Second Nature

John Prest, The Garden of Eden: The Botanic Garden and the Re-Creation of Paradise

Leslie Marmon Silko, “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination” (1986)

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (1975)

Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: A History of the Modern Sensibility

James Turner, The Politics of Landscape: Rural Scenery and Society in English Poetry, 1630-1660

Raymond Williams, chapters 1-5, from The Country and the City (1973), “Nature” and “Culture,” from Keywords (1976)