Semester FallThis is yours truly realizing that a new semester has begun. It is schedule and syllabus time again.
Two course are the usual routine -- a survey of American literature from colonialism up to the Civil War. You know, native Indians versus the Puritans, revolutionary manifestoes, the Enlightenment versus the evangelical Great Awakening, slave narratives and abolitionists, the "Woman Question" writers, and then as romanticism finally hits America after already sweeping through Europe, we suddenly have Emerson provoking a handful of younger writers who were loosely Transcendentalist: Margaret Fuller, Whitman, and Thoreau. Beyond them we close down with distinctly less sunny individuals -- Hawthorne's cutting satire of the utopians and Puritans, Melville's black proto-existentialism that undermines transcendentalist ideas, and Dickinson, who deconstructs her way right out of church.
One new seminar for me will be an exploration of "Romantic Ecology". This plan is to read the Romantics on both sides of the Atlantic for their take on nature, along with a batch of emerging eco-criticism. E.g., Thoreau's Walden is neatly matched with Buell's major tome on The Environmental Imagination, while Wordsworth's poetry is matched with Jonathan Bate's book Romantic Ecology. After this grounding, we will consider further critics and authors, including ecofeminism, social ecology, and the postmodern science of complexity (if I can get my students to read that much).
Meanwhile, I am almost prepared. I do have help for these pressing matters, pictured below.