Literature, Ecology, Catastrophe

Subject ENGL30047 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 170 hours across the semester, including class time.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Claire Thomas, Prof Deirdre Coleman


Dr Claire Thomas

Prof Deirdre Coleman

Subject Overview:

The Humanities have always been interested in Nature and the non-human or ‘other’, and this has gathered momentum with our increasing awareness of the planet’s vulnerability and our responsibility for averting environmental disaster. The term ‘ecocriticism’ was applied in the mid-1990s to the study of literature and the environment; since then, ecological approaches to critique have rapidly expanded into other areas, encompassing ‘dark ecology’, ‘ecological materialism’, ecofeminist and queer ecological perspectives. This subject begins with some classical and early modern conceptions of the natural world; it goes on to cover Romantic conceptions of Nature, evolution, science and species, the ‘wilderness’, human-animal relations, new environmentalisms, utopias, Indigeneity, and narratives about extinction, apocalypse and the posthuman.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who complete this subject will have:

  • a broad understanding of literary conceptions of Nature and the physical world from the classical period to the present day;
  • an understanding of relations between literature, science and natural history;
  • an understanding of literature’s capacity to imagine and inhabit life-sustaining worlds;
  • an understanding of literature’s capacity to think beyond the ‘human’ in the framework of ecological catastrophe.

A 1500 word essay 35% (due mid-semester), a 2500 word essay 55% (due in the examination period) and class participation including presentation 10%.

This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Tennyson, In Memoriam, Norton Critical Edition

H G Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau, Penguin

Jack London, The Call of the Wild, Penguin

Kafka, Metamorphosis, Penguin

Rachel Carson, The Silent Spring

Alexis Wright, Plains of Promise, Penguin

Cormac McCarthy, The Road, Vintage

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl, 2009

Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood, (Little Brown)

There will also be a Reader for this course.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have:

  • acquired a transportable set of interpretative skills;
  • developed their capacity for independent research;
  • developed their capacity for critical thinking and analysis;
  • developed their ability to communicate in writing.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: English and Theatre Studies
Graduate Certificate in Arts - English and Theatre Studies
Graduate Diploma in Arts - English and Theatre Studies

Download PDF version.