Course Schedule and Syllabus


 Please note that this schedule will shift and stretch to match on our progress through the term. I reserve the right to alter the schedule as our progress demands. The authoritative schedule will be housed here on our course blog.

Pre-Reading  | (no class) August 28

     Get ready. Read PDFs sent by email, review blog site. Prepare for day 1.

Tuesday, September 3 | Coordinates. What is the nineteenth century? What is an ecology?

Nathan Hensley and Philip Steer, Ecological Form, “Introduction”*

“The Victorian Age: 1830-1910”*

“What Made the Victorians So Proud”*

Victorian Literature and Culture “Keywords” essays: (1) Oak Taylor, “Anthropocene”; (2) Hensley, “Environment”; (3) MacDuffie, “Environment”; (4) Miller, “Ecology”*

Tuesday, September 10 | Pre-Victorian System Poetics

William Wordsworth, from The Major Works:

“Home at Grasmere,” “The Ruined Cottage,” “The Old Cumberland Beggar,” “The Thorn,” “Nutting,” “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” “O Nightingale! Thou surely art,” “Appendix A: “There is an active principle alive in all things.”*

John Ruskin, “The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century,” Lecture 1 only

Zach Fruit, “Enclosure”*

Jerome McGann, from The Romantic Ideology*


Andreas Malm, from Fossil Capital*

Raymond Williams, from The Country and the City*

Tuesday, September 17 | Evolutionary Relations

Charles Darwin., On the Origin of Species 5-100; 230-254; 303-360

Charles Lyell, from Principles of Geology [skim this online]

John Stuart Mill, from On Liberty*

Elizabeth Grosz, from The Nick of Time (Pls. print and read only the “Conclusion,” pp. 244-261*)

Gillian Beer, from Darwin’s Plots*

Prof. Hensley to give short biographies / writing samples for each symposium speaker

[Friday, September 20 | Symposium: Ecology and Religion in the Nineteenth Century]

Attendance at this Georgetown event is encouraged but not mandatory: there is an International student climate strike on this day, with which I am in solidarity.

Tuesday, September 24 | Beings That Are Not Me

Charles Dickens, Hard Times

From Richard Oastler, from Yorkshire Slavery*

Anna Tsing, “Arts of Inclusion, or How to Love a Mushroom”*

Nathan Hensley and John Patrick James, “Soot Moth: Biston Bistularia and the Victorian End of Nature”*

Catherine Gallagher, from The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction*

Audrey Jaffe, from Scenes of Sympathy, pp. 1-23*

Tuesday, October 1 | NO CLASS, professor traveling to UBC.


Read Wuthering Heights. Each student writes a full blog post with two discussion questions.

Tuesday, October 8 | An Existence of Yours Beyond You

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Essays on “Yorkshire Slavery” tbd*

Christina Sharpe, “Introduction” and “The Weather,” from In The Wake: On Blackness and Being* [Sharpe moved later in term]

Tuesday, October 15 | Poetic Knowledge & the Species Division

Christina Rossetti, selected sonnets, and from Sing Song and The Face of the Deep*

Robert Browning, select dramatic monologues including “Caliban Upon Setebos”

Donna Haraway, from Making Kin in the Cthulucene*

Roberto Esposito, from Person and Thing*

Tuesday, October 22 | Incalculable Diffusion I

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Tuesday, October 29 | Incalculable Diffusion II

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Gage McWeeny, from The Comfort of Strangers*

Review “Digital Middlemarch Project“* 

Tuesday, November 5 | Incalculable Diffusion III


George Eliot, Middlemarch

Laura Otis, “The Webs of Middlemarch”*

Tuesday, November 12 | Imperialism and Ecological Knowledge

John Hanning Speke, from Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile*

Richard Francis Burton, from The Kasidah of Haji-Abdu Al Yezdi*

Richard Francis Burton, Falconry in the Valley of the Indus*

Edward Said, from Orientalism*

Mike Davis, from Late Victorian Holocausts*

Optional: Jessica Howell, “Mapping Miasma, Containing Fear: Richard Burton in West Africa” 

Tuesday, November 19 | Cosmic Time, Open Systems [NOTE: CLASS MEETS IN DE LA CRUZ ART GALLERY, 3535 Prospect St. NW. Washington, DC 20007]

Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders

Christina Sharpe, “Introduction” and “The Weather,” from In The Wake: On Blackness and Being*

Optional: Aaron Rosenberg, “‘Infinitesimal Lives’: Thomas Hardy’s Scale Effects” (in Ecological Form)

Tuesday, November 26 | Cosmic Time, Open Systems II

Thomas Hardy, The Woodlanders

Essays on eco-nihilism and “dark ecology” tbd

Tuesday, December 3 | Wreckage & Redemption

Gerard Manley Hopkins, selected poems, including “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” “God’s Grandeur,” “As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame,” “The Windhover,” “Inversnaid,” “Binsey Poplars,” “Ribblesdale”*; “Author’s Preface” pp 106-107; Journal entries, pp. 202-211

Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”*

Zach Samalin, “A Map the Size of the Empire”: Introduction to Theories of the Nineteenth Century*

JMW Turner, selected paintings and from Turner’s Sketchbooks*


SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14. Final projects due by email, 12 pm.