English R1B

Reading & Composition: Still Life: Nature and Art

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
19 Spring 2014 Stancek, Claire Marie
TTh 3:30-5 214 Haviland

Book List

Bronte, Emily: Wuthering Heights; Hacker, Diane: Developmental Exercises for Rules for Writers; Hacker, Diane: Rules for Writers; Munro, Alice: Who Do You Think You Are?; Sebald, W. G. : The Rings of Saturn; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Thoreau, Henry D.: Walden

Other Readings and Media

A course reader with selections from William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, John Clare, and John James Audubon.


Come forth into the light of things,

Let Nature be your teacher.

—William Wordsworth, “The Tables Turned”


I have always kept ducks, he said, even as a child, and the colours of their plumage, in particular the dark green and snow white, seemed to me the only possible answer to the questions that are on my mind.

—W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn


When nature meets art, what happens? If nature and art are opposed to one another (as the natural is opposed to the wrought or manufactured), does portraying nature in art require forms of violence, either apparent or submerged? How closely are artistic endeavours bound up with colonial ones? Despite or perhaps because of these uncertainties, artists over the centuries have been obsessed with the challenges, the lessons, and the ethics involved in translating the natural into the artificial. We will explore their literary attempts from 1798 to 1998, taking up our course with William Wordsworth and following two hundred years of environmental and social changes to the brink of the twenty-first century with W. G. Sebald. Along our journey, we will consider environmental issues—such as animal rights, climate change, and overpopulation—alongside literary ones—such as the effects of form, the role of narrative, and the history of experimentation—in an attempt, if not to reconcile, then to draw these incongruous worlds into conversation.

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