English 203

Graduate Readings: Pastoral/Animal Studies

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2010 Francois, Anne-Lise
Francois, Anne-Lise
MW 10:30-12 305 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Primary readings by Berger, Carroll, Dreyer, DuBois, G. Eliot, Hardy, Jewett, Marvell, O’Hara, Rousseau, Schiller, Shakespeare, Virgil, Walcott, Wordsworth.


A wide-ranging exploration of pastoral modes from Virgil’s rewriting of Theocritus to contemporary imitations less of rural life per se than of lives deemed somehow “poor” or “simple.” Drawing on Empson’s sense of pastoral as a complex encounter between “high” and “low” persons and as an aesthetic privileging of the weak and socially powerless, we will seek to challenge and complicate the still prevalent notion limiting pastoral to an idealization of “country” ways of life; we will inquire instead about what Alpers following Fletcher calls the “ideas of human strength relative to [the] world” encoded in pastoral modes. Topics will include: the legacy of Romantic primitivism for contemporary environmental discourse; pastoral as ritual gift-exchange and the role of transmission in so-called traditional communities; scenes of native informants turned courtiers disguised as shepherds; animal imaginaries; figures of the poor, the simple, the common(s) and everyday in contemporary discourse theorizing an alternative modernity (De Certeau, Negri, Rancière). The course will also be an occasion to explore the limits of genre-based literary criticism and to address, in particular, the relation of genre to mode.

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