Critical and artistic responses to media representations of climate change and to contemporary discourses of imperiled ecology have given rise in the first decades of the twenty-first century to an aesthetics of what the photographer Edward Burtynsky has called "manufactured landscapes": denatured, waste-filled contact zones between human technologies and uninhabited space. Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts call these spaces "edgelands," and develop a latter-day poetics that tries to account for the human intervention in the natural, while Kathleen Jamie asks, as she travels the shorelines of the human, "if it's still possible to value that which endures, if durability is still a virtue, when we have invented plastic." Beginning with Robert Hayman's seventeen century caveat that we can "live no other where" and with a reading of a foundational modern text of denatured poetics, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, we will examine contemporary English-language fiction, essays, songs and poetry that contemplate landscape, ecology, corporeality and self-fashioning. How is it still possible to write something like an enduring poetry or to speak of the natural in an age of "wildlife management," when human dominion has so pervasively asserted itself over the disparate surfaces of the earth?
Octavia Butler, Dawn (Lilith's Brood [The Xenogenesis Trilogy], Book One)
Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, Edgelands: Journeys into England's True Wilderness
Lorna Goodison, From Harvey River.
Hugh Howey, Wool
Kathleen Jamie, Sightlines
Don McKay, Deactivated West 100
John K. Samson, Lyrics and Poems, 1997-2012
Participation and Attendance (10%)
Response Blog (10%)
Click here for instructions and requirements for blog entries.
Click here for a wikipedia page about the Great Glen.
Click here for the homepage for The Famous Grouse whiskey.
Click herefor a tourist page on the Isle of Rona, in Scotland.
Click here for some aerial views of Fianuis, Rona.
Click here for a video identifying the UK rock pipit.
Click here for Timothy Morton's website/blog, Ecology Without Nature.
Click here for a link to the Foundation for Deep Ecology and the work of Arne Naess.
Click here to access an electronic copy of In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism by Isabelle Stengers. I quoted from this book at the end of today's class: ". . . the felt necessity of trying to listen to that which insists, obscurely" (19).
Click here for an episode of "The Echo Chamber" from BBC Radio 4, in which Paul Farley interviews Kathleen Jamie. It was broadcast on Sunday, January 3, 2016, and the stream will stay live until the first week of February.
Kathleen Jamie: "Poetry, the Land, and Nature" (2015 Coleridge lecture at the University of Bristol)
Wednesday January 6
Please read "Beautiful Habit" by Tom Raworth, found here (with audio).
Click here for "What is the Anthropocene and Are We in It?" from Smithsonian magazine.
(Please note: Tom Raworth begins reading, in the video, at 29:30.)
Friday January 8
"It must be clearly affirmed that humanity is an animal species that attempts to overcome its animality, a natural set that attempts to denaturalise itself." (Alain Badiou, quoted and translated in the Stengers book linked above, p. 12)
Please read Kathleen Jamie, "Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead."
Click here to access a copy of Kathleen Jamie's poem, "Mr and Mrs Scotland Are Dead," along with audio of Jamie reading the poem.
Click here for "In the Nature of Things," a 2005 profile of Kathleen Jamie from The Guardian.
Click here for "Tourism fears as winter storms turns scenic Scots lochside into garbage trap" from the Daily Record, 17 January 2014.
Monday January 11
Please look at the photography of Edward Burtynsky.
Click here for Edward Burtynsky's homepage. Please click on "Projects" to look at small reproductions of his photographs.
Please note that "Oil" and "Water" have been made into multi-media iPad apps by Burtynsky. (You can purchase them if you wish.)
Wednesday January 13
Edward Burtynsky, continued.
Click here for a description of "A Terrible Beauty," an Edward Burtynsky exhibit in the spring of 2014 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Click here for a description of "Edward Burtynsky: The Landscape That We Change," a 2013 exhibit at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario.
Click here to view Edward Burtynsky photographs from the Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto.
Click here to view "My wish: Manufactured landscapes and green education," Edward Burtynsky's 2005 TED talk.
Click here to see Edward Burtynsky's work at the National Gallery of Canada.
Click here to view a clip of Edward Burtynsky on CBC's "The Hour" with George Stroumboulopoulos.
Click here for a 2013 article on Burtynsky from the Toronto Star
Click here for "A Terrible Beauty: Edward Burtynsky's Water" by Lizzy Hill.
Click here for "Interview: Edward Burtynsky Talks About 'Water'."
Friday January 15
Please bring to class a cell-phone snapshot that depicts the collision of the human and the natural. Selfies are warmly invited.