English | Restoration & Augustan Literature
L733 | 26271 | Nash

L733  26271  NASH (#3)
Restoration & Augustan Literature

5:45p – 8:45p W


Animating recent work in Literature and Science is an increasing
attention to matters sometimes loosely categorized as AgriCultural
Studies. This course will focus on the early modern period (not, in
this articulation, the Renaissance but rather that period from the
Interregnum to about the American Revolution) as a way to focus our
engagement with the critical problems that such a critical approach
brings to the foreground.

Recently, in The Washington Post, I got to read about the
environmental threat posed to drinking water by deer scat. This is
the sort of topsy-turvy eco-threat that we have grown increasingly
familiar with over the past quarter century: wild animals and plants
are threatening our ecosystem! One hardly knows whether to laugh, be
outraged or both.  As this course will have a lot to do with satire,
we will grow accustomed to combining those two responses; and as we
will do so, we will be reminded to take them seriously. For the
interdependence of deer and human populations are well-established
realities that put pressure on our easy distinctions between a
Culture in which we live and a Nature in which they live.

One feature of our critical position with respect to the Early
Modern period will be committing to a “non-modern” perspective that
seeks to engage with, while simultaneously resisting those modern
constructions that sought to purify Nature and Culture, by
disavowing NatureCulture hybridities. Following the path of such
theorist of science studies as Karen Barad, Bruno Latour, and Donna
Haraway, we will return to the terrain of Early Modern literature
with an eye toward re-engaging critically with the material demands
of an intensely agrarian culture during a period frequently
identified as experiencing an “agricultural revolution.”  Central to
our reconsideration of how to theorize these questions will be Karen
Barad's Agential Realism in conjunction with a return to the ideas
of Jakob Von Uxkull, recently revitalized by the writings of Giorgio

Doing so should remind us that Cultural Studies is not restricted
either to late-twentieth century capitalism, or to urban
environments.  It should prompt us to engage with historical
arguments that, in spite of the inroads made in recent decades as
English departments move beyond literary history, have for the most
part remained too “off-road” to encounter much vehicular traffic. It
will bring us to consider seriously a set of questions that
anticipate “ecocriticism” before “ecology” was a word. And, I
certainly hope, it will bring us to see with fresh eyes familiar
literary forms like Georgic, locodescriptive poetry and fable. While
our emphasis will be on poetry, we will read in a variety of genres.
Among those we are likely to read are Dryden, Addison, Defoe, Pope,
Swift, Gay, and Somerville.