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You are here: Home Courses Middlebury-CMRS Course List ESLI / ESNF / ENAM 0365 Gothic Nature and the Sublime in Nineteenth Century British Literature

ESLI / ESNF / ENAM 0365 Gothic Nature and the Sublime in Nineteenth Century British Literature

The rise of gothic fiction in the latter part of the eighteenth-century was part of a cultural and artistic revaluation of traditional conceptions of our relationship to the natural world. As Augustan notions of an ordered and benevolent Nature were challenged by the political realities of British life – including population growth, the expansion of urban environments, and greater awareness of global geographies – the natural world was increasingly figured as a place of sublime and even supernatural power. This tutorial course uses eighteenth- and nineteenth-century notions of the sublime as a starting point for exploring British writers’ vexed connections to a landscape which inspires both awe and horror.

Sample topics may include:

1               Theories of the sublime from Addison to Kant

2               Romantic sublimity and the Alps

3               Habitations and hauntings: Graveyards, ruins and ‘eternity’ in the poetic imagination

4               The Gothic wilderness in the novels of the Brontes

5               The sublime city

6               Turner and Thomson, Young and Blake: Illustrating the Romantic Landscape

7               Horror and dystopia in the natural world

8               Spots of Time: The psychology of the Gothic landscape

9               ‘Natural Supernaturalism’: Uncanny Landscapes

10            Gothic medievalism and the British Isles

11            Gothic landscapes and the monstrous feminine

12            Ecogothic: politics of Gothic Nature

You never know what you'll find
One afternoon, I left St. Michael's Hall with the desire for a cookie and thought I'd pick one up before heading back to the Bodleian. The shop around...
Gabrielle Linnell, Spring Semester 2012, Wellesley College