Romantic Ecologies & the Modern Invention of Nature - ENGL3430

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Kaori Nagai checkmark-circle


How can nature be invented? Before the Romantic era, writers such as Daniel Defoe talked of the horror, ugliness and 'unhospitable terror' of the Lake District. A hundred years later and the reputation of the region had been completely transformed into a place of beauty and contemplation. This module looks at what happened to the natural world in the century between Defoe and Wordsworth and how the debates produced during the period are ones that we are still struggling to understand the impact of today. In many ways, the legacy of Romanticism might be seen in our understanding of global warming and climate change, informed as it is by Romantic concerns that urge us not to put the natural world in a frame on the wall, or to see it as a distant thing 'out there'. Instead, they tried to make sense of what we were risking the loss of in the crazed rush to mechanisation, technology and urban living. Throughout the module, the poetry, fiction, and essays that we will encounter (focussing on the early nineteenth century, but from other periods too) explore how the Romantics saw this newly-emergent natural world as: restorative; political, even revolutionary; the place where our bodies belong; an analogue of the mind; a reminder of who we are as a species and the threat of extinction that results in our forgetting it; and how they were cynical about it being put to use for our benefit and suspicious of how it could be profited from. This module will show that Romanticism is still with us, as are their concerns about the environment. n


Contact hours

Contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Learning journal (1,500 words) (30%)
Project documentary (6-8 mins) (50%)
Seminar participation (20%)

Reassessment methods
Alternative assessment: 100% Coursework (2,000 words).

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 . identify specific thematic concerns relating to texts from the Romantic period, alongside the appropriate terminology and potential complexities relating to these themes;
2 . understand the relationship between Romantic texts and specific environmental, political, historical, and social contexts, as well as the interconnections and tensions between these separate contexts;
3. understand and critically interrogate the parallels between the concerns of the Romantics and contemporary debates about global warming, climate change and the environment;
4 .write critically about environmental issues and debates, their relationship to literary texts, and their capacity and potential for political efficacy and agency.
5. plan and execute a short project documentary that looks in detail at an environmental issue relevant to the Romantics and to people today.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 . identify and apply strategies of reading relevant to the material they encounter;
2 . apply close reading techniques to a range of literary texts, and to make complex comparisons between them;
3 . effectively communicate using a variety of methods;
4 . begin self-directed research and discuss, evaluate, and creatively deploy secondary critical and theoretical perspectives;
5 . construct original, articulate, and well-substantiated arguments;
6 . manage their time and workload effectively.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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