cod. 1000633

Academic year 2023/24
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Letteratura inglese (L-LIN/10)
Lingue e letterature moderne
Type of training activity
36 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students with historical-literary knowledge of and enable them to develop advanced critical-analytical skills in relation to the main literary manifestations and forms from Romanticism to today that pertain to the critical and theoretical discourses of postcolonial literatures, of the intersections between ecology and literature, and ecocriticism. During the course, students will acquire:
- research and analytical skills applicable to the complex manifestations of Anglophone literature and culture from the Romantic period to the present day;
- in-depth knowledge of theoretical notions, authors, works, movements and aesthetic ideas central to the literature in English from the nineteenth century to nowadays, with the support of an updated critical bibliography;
- the ability to contextualize and analyse complex texts in English from both a formal and a thematic-ideological perspective;
- the ability to outline research projects autonomously through the deployment of traditional and digital bibliographical resources;
- the ability to articulate critical judgments about complex literary and cultural phenomena based on textual close readings;
- communicative skills allowing them to formulate ideas and commentaries in English in a linguistic register and lexis appropriate to literary studies, as well as corresponding to the level of language proficiency expected for the year of the Laurea Magistrale attended by students;
- the autonomy to apply the skills developed during the course also to non-literary texts.
In addition, in line with the educational project of the Laurea Magistrale, the course aims to develop transversal skills of communication, engagement and problem-solving, in individual and group contexts, that is to help students acquire a varied and transferable skill-set applicable both to professional and non-professional situations.


- Knowledge of spoken English equivalent to at least B2 level of CEFR;
- basic knowledge of literary genres;
- general knowledge of the literary history from the Romantics to today;
- familiarity with the language of literary criticism and theory;
- general knowledge of the British history of colonialism and decolonization.

Course unit content

"Representing the Environment: Anglophone Literatures and Ecocriticism"
This course will examine literary responses to our natural environment and how writers, cultural theorists, literary historians and theorists have addressed environmental questions even before current cogent concerns such as the climate crisis, population growth, urbanization, and technological change. Some of these questions will be at the heart of the course, during which students will be asked to engage with a range of literary texts and corresponding critical discourses, including Postcolonial criticism, environmental politics (or ecopolitics) and Ecocriticism. One central purpose of this course is to bring together the concerns of postcolonial critics and environmental humanists. Key questions to be addressed will be: which meanings do writers convey by focusing on the non-human environment, such as land, water and animals? In what ways are environmental issues inseparable from social issues? What does an epistemology of nature involve? How do writers represent human/non-human relations? Throughout the course, works of theory will provide the critical tools to examine works of the imagination. The first part of the course (about 6-8 hours) will focus on the presentation of the main theories concerning postcolonial literatures, literature and the environment, ecocriticism from Romanticism to today. So, in this case, the first key question will be: what is the legacy of Romanticism’s idea of nature as central to human creativity, beauty, social transformation, and spiritual fulfilment? The rest of the course (about 28-30 hours) will be devoted to the analysis of a selection of texts read through an ecocritical lens. The primary texts will be representative of “world literature” in English from a variety of regions and countries, both within and outside the UK: Scotland, Ireland, India, and South Africa. Students will explore how selected writers from these regions represent environmental experience and depict place(s) as linked to the natural world in the contexts of colonialism (including internal colonialism) and imperialism, and postcolonialism. The selected writers are: Nan Shepherd (Scotland); a selection of Irish poems; Amitav Ghosh (India); and J. M. Coetzee (South Africa). The texts will be first introduced by the lecturer and then discussed by the students. The implication is that students must read each primary text before the class dedicated to it. All the texts, in the original language, will be analyzed in relation to the historical and aesthetic context and pointing out their narratological or poetic, stylistic, thematic and ideological characteristics. During the last two or three classes of the course, students are expected to give a short presentation on one or more texts of the syllabus.

Full programme

A) PRIMARY TEXTS (all in the University Library in Parma, except for the Irish poems, which will be uploaded on Moodle)
Nan Shepherd, "The Living Mountain" (1944, publ. 1977)
J. M. Coetzee, "Disgrace" (1999)
Amitav Ghosh, "The Hungry" Tide (2004)
Selection of poems by Derek Mahon, Moya Cannon, Paula Meehan e Seamus Heaney:
Mahon: «A Country road», «Its Radiant Energies», «Homage to Gaia», and «Indian Garden»;
Cannon: «Orientation», «Thirst in the Burren», «Mountain»;
Meehan: «Death of a Field», «Snowdrops»;
Heaney: «Digging», «The Peninsula».

B) Ecocriticism
- Buell Lawrence, Ursula K. Heise, and Karen Thornber, “Literature and Environment”, "The Annual Review of Environment and Resources", vol. 36 (2011), pp. 417–40. [pdf Moodle]
- Garrard Greg, "Ecocriticism" (Routledge, 2012), Chapters 1 and 2 [Unipr Library].
- Marland Pippa, “Ecocriticism”, Literature Compass 10/11 (2013) pp. 846–868. [pdf Moodle]
- Morton Timothy, "The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment" (Cambridge UP, 2011), Introduction, Chapter 1 [Unipr Library].
- Phillips Dana, “Ecocriticism, Literary Theory, and the Truth of Ecology”, New Literary History, Vol. 30, No. 3, Ecocriticism (Summer, 1999), pp. 577-602. [pdf Moodle]
- Rigby Kate, “Ecocriticism”, Chapter 7 in Julian Wolfreys (ed.), Introducing Criticism at the Twenty-First Century (Edinburgh UP, 2015), 151-78. [pdf Moodle]
- Scaffai Niccolò, “Le prospettive della critica ecologica”, Siculorum Gymnasium A Journal for the Humanities, vol. LXX, No. III (2017), pp. 119-135. [pdf Moodle]
- Salvadori Diego, “Ecocritica: diacronie di una contaminazione”, LEA - Lingue e letterature d’Oriente e d’Occidente, n. 5 (2016), pp. 671-699. [pdf Moodle]

C) Postcolonialism and ecocriticism
- DeLoughrey E. & G. B. Handley (eds), "Postcolonial Ecologies" (OUP 2011), pp. 3-30. [pdf Moodle].
- Huggan Graham and Helen Tiffin, "Postcolonial ecocriticism: literature, animals, environment", eBook (Routledge, 2015), pp. 1-16, 203-209 [Unipr Library].
- Mita Banerjee, “Ecocriticism and Postcolonial Studies”, in Handbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology, ed. Hubert Zapf (De Gruyter 2016), pp. 194-199. [Unipr Library].
- Morton Timothy, Chapter 12 in "The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment" (Cambridge UP, 2011) [Unipr Library].
- Perez Trujillo Axel, “Postcolonial Ecologies: The Crosspollination of Postcolonial and Environmental Studies”, The Trumpeter, Volume 32, No. 1 (2016), pp. 38-54 [pdf Moodle]

D) Specific materials on authors and texts

- Clouston, Erlen, “Celebrating the road to nowhere”, Resurgence & ecologist Online, vol. 5 nov/dec (2017), pp. 16-18. [pdf Moodle]
- Carter, Gillian, “Domestic geography and the politics of Scottish landscape in Nan Shepherd’s ‘the Living Mountain’”, Gender, Place and Culture 8.1 (2001), pp. 25-36. [pdf Moodle]
- Sassi, Carla, “A Quest for a (Geo)poetics of Relation: nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain”, in Re-visioning Scotland: new readings of the cultural canon, ed. Lyndsay Lunan, Kirsty A. Macdonald and Carla Sassi (Peter Lang, 2008), pp. 67-80. [Unipr Library].
- video: Walton Samantha, paper presented at a conference on Scotland and Ecology (on Moodle)

- Barnard Rita, “J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace and the South African Pastoral”, Contemporary Literature XLIV, 2 (2003) [pdf Moodle]
- LaFace Betty, “The African Anti-Eden in J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace: Ethnic Identity and Nation Building in South Africa”, International Journal of the Humanities vol. 5.7 (2007) [pdf Moodle]
- Randall Don, “The Community of Sentient Beings: J. M. Coetzee’s Ecology in Disgrace and Elizabeth Costello”, ESC 33.1-2, March/June 2007 [ONLY PARTS ON DISGRACE pdf Moodle]
- Smit-Marais Susan & Marita Wenzel, “Subverting the pastoral: the transcendence of space and place
in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace”, Literator 27(7) April 2006:23-38 [pdf Moodle]

- Anand Divya, “Words on Water: Nature and Agency in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”, Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies 34.1 (March 2008) [pdf Moodle].
- Cottier Annie, “Settlers in the Sundarbans: The Poetry and Politics of Humans and Nature in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”, in On the Move, ed. Ramsey-Kurz; Ganapathy-Doré (Cambridge Scholars 2012) [pdf Moodle]
- Giles Jana Maria, “Can the Sublime Be Postcolonial? Aesthetics, Politics, and Environment in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”, Cambridge journal of postcolonial literary inquiry Online vol. 1.2 (2014) [pdf Moodle]
- Kaur Rajender, “‘Home Is Where the Oracella Are’: Toward a New Paradigm of Transcultural Ecocritical Engagement in Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide”, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 14.1 (Summer 2007) [pdf Moodle]
- Prabhu Gayathri, “Retelling Nature: Realism and the Postcolonial-Environmental Imaginary in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”, Transnational Literature Vol. 7 no. 2 (May 2015) [pdf Moodle].
- Rath Arnapurna and Milind Malshe, “Chronotopes of “Places” and “Non-places”: Ecopoetics of Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”, Asiatic, Vol. 4, No. 2, December 2010 [pdf Moodle].
- Vescovi Alessandro, “Fear and Ethics in the Sundarbans: Anthropology in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide”, Governare la paura (luglio 2014) [pdf Moodle]
- Weik Alexa, “The Home, the Tide, and the World: Eco-cosmopolitan Encounters in Amitav Ghosh’s The
Hungry Tide, The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies September 2006 [pdf Moodle]


- Eoin Flannery, “Scale, Deep Time, and the Politics of Representation in Derek Mahon’s Life on Earth”, Irish University Review 48.2 (2018) [pdf Moodle].
- Eoin Flannery, “ ‘Listen to the leaves’”: Derek Mahon’s Evolving Ecologies, Criticism Summer 2015, Vol. 57, No. 3 [pdf Moodle].

- Karhio Anne,“The City in a Raindrop: The Urban Ecology of Paula Meehan”, in Urban and rural landscapes in modern Ireland, ed. Gilsenan Nordin, Zamorano Llena (Peter Lang 2012) [pdf Moodle].

- Cusick Christine, “Our Language was Tidal’: Moya Cannon’s Poetics of Place”, New Hibernia Review, vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring 2005) [pdf Moodle].
- Gilsenan Nordin Irene, “Elegy and Celebration: Landscape, Place and Dwelling in the Poetry of Moya Cannon”, in Redefinitions of Irish Identity: A Postnationalist Approach (Peter Lang 2010) [pdf Moodle].

- Howley Ellen, “ ‘Like poetry or freedom / leaning in from sea’: a reconsideration of the topography of Heaney’s poetry”, IRISH STUDIES REVIEW, VOL. 28, NO. 2, 2020 [pdf Moodle].
- Ráez Padilla Juan, “Seamus Heaney’s Elemental Ecopoetics: Earth, Water, Air and Fire”, Journal of Ecocriticism, 1(2) July 2009 [pdf Moodle].
- Rafroidi Patrick, “The Sense of Place in Seamus Heaney’s poetry”, in Studies on Seamus Heaney, ed. Jacqueline Genet (Open Edition 2020) [pdf Moodle].

E) General theory and criticism: postcolonialism
- Hiddleston Jane, Understanding Postcolonialism (2009), pp. 1-24, 76-125, 178-185 [Unipr Library].
- Loomba, Ania, Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998), pp. 1-57, 104-133, 173-183 [Unipr Library].
- Ramone Jenni, Postcolonial Theories (2011), pp. 46-89, 102-126 [Unipr library]


- Connolly Claire, “Postcolonial Ireland: Posing the Question”, European Journal of English Studies, vol. 3, No. 3 [pdf on Moodle]
- Macdonald Graeme, New formations, "Postcolonialism and Scottish Studies”, Vol. 59, No. 1 (2006) [pdf on Moodle]
- Murphy Andrew, “Ireland and ante/anti‐colonial theory”, Irish Studies Review, 7:2 (1999). [pdf on Moodle]
- Schoene, Berthold, “A passage to Scotland: Scottish literature and the British postcolonial condition.”, Scotlands, 2 (1) (1995), pp. 107-122. [pdf on Moodle]
- video on Romanticism and Ecocriticism [on Moodle]
- video on the Ecological Turn in English studies [on Moodle]
- video on Ecocriticism explained by Dr. Elizabeth Dodd [on Moodle]
- video recording of my asynchronous lectures on internal postcolonialism (3 videos: 1 general, 1 on Scotland and 1 on Ireland) [on Moodle]

READING for attending students

1) ALL primary texts in List A
2) Secondary materials: students must choose

• 4 texts from list B
• 3 texts from list C
• 1 essay/article from list D for each of the primary authors (list A) in the syllabus. As regards Irish poetry: READ ONE ARTICLE FOR EACH POET/POETESS.
• 1 text from list E

READING for non-attending students

1) ALL primary texts in List A
2) Secondary materials: students must choose

• 5 texts from list B
• 4 texts from list C
• 2 essays/articles from list D for each of the primary authors (list A) in the syllabus. But, as regards Irish poetry: READ ONE ARTICLE FOR EACH POET/POETESS.
• 2 texts from list E


STUDENTS’ PRESENTATIONS (only for attending students)

ATTENDING STUDENTS will give a presentation during one of the last classes of the course. They will choose one or more texts of the course and present them (about 10-15 minutes) focusing on a specific topic out of their choice, and using preferably the critical materials indicated in the syllabus.
Recommended structure: 1) short theoretical frame; 2) application of theories to the discussion of the chosen topic through the reading of one or more primary texts .


The presentation will be the starting point of the exam, to which the student will have to add considerations concerning two different primary texts from those analysed in the presentation and be ready to discuss them with me.

“Conventional” oral exam: questions on the whole programme (about 20-25 minutes).


India. Amitav Ghosh, "The Hungry Tide"
Sud-Africa: J. M. Coetzee, "Disgrace"
Scozia: Nan Shepherd, "The Living Mountain"
Irlanda: selezioni di poesie di Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon Paula Meehan e Moya Cannon.
GENERAL CRITICISM (of which only sections will be part of the syllabus):
- Clark Timothy; "The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment"
- DeLoughrey Elizabeth and George B. Handley (eds), "Postcolonial Ecologies. Literatures of the Environment"
- Flannery Eoin , "Ireland and Ecocriticism"
- Gairn Louisa, "Ecology and Modern Scottish Literature"
- Garrard, Greg, "Ecocriticism"
- Hall, Dewey W., "Romantic ecocriticism: origins and legacies"
- Lidström, Susanna, "Nature, environment and poetry : ecocriticism and the poetics of Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes"
- Riem Antonella e John Tiemme (eds), "Ecology and Partnership Studies in Anglophone Literatures"
- Roos Bonnie and Alex Hunt (eds), "Postcolonial Green. Environmental Politics & World Narratives"
- Westling Louise (ed), "The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Environment"

Many texts are available in the Library of the Foreign Languages ​​and Literatures Unit in Parma, but most of the materials (namely essays or audio visual materials) will be available on the online platform of the University of Modena (Moodle). The detailed program with all bibliographic references (including essays on individual authors) will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Teaching methods

In the absence of national norms imposing restrictions, all teaching activities will take place in presence. The didactic activities will be mainly of two types. On the one hand, lectures aimed at introducing the theoretical framework of the course, the main aspects inherent to the historical-cultural context, the authors and the texts. Such introductory classes will rely on both the reference bibliography of the course and additional textual or visual materials that students will find in the Library of the Unit of Foreign Languages ​​and Literatures in Parma, or on the online teaching platform of the University of Modena (Moodle). On the other hand, the activities will include seminars, during which, in accordance with the project of the Master's Degree in Languages, Cultures, Communication, the focus will be mainly on in-depth analysis of specific aspects deriving from the close reading of the selected texts. Therefore, students will be constantly encouraged to participate in the discussions of the texts and the theoretical aspects concerning them through questions posed by the teacher in the forums of the Moodle platform, group work and research to be carried out independently and then shared with their classmates. They will also be spurred to create individual study paths and seek original approaches in the analysis of the themes and issues emerging during the lessons. All the teaching materials (except those under copyright restrictions, which can be borrowed from the library) will be available on the Moodle platform.

Assessment methods and criteria

The assessment of the knowledge, skills and competences acquired takes place according to two modalities:
1) attending students (70% of the lessons): a brief presentation during one of the last classes on the topics of the course and an oral exam consisting of a re-elaboration of the subject of the presentation (e.g. reference to primary texts which were not tackled in the presentation). Both the presentation and the oral exam will be in English.
2) Non-attending students: an oral exam in English consisting of various questions on the topics of the course.
Both the presentation and the oral part of the exam will evaluate the following skills that the student should achieve by the end of his/her learning process:
- oral (and written for non attending students who will write an essay instead of giving the class presentation) skills in English equivalent at least to C1 level of the Common European Framework, implying the acquisition of the proper lexis for academic literary analyses;
- Specific, in-depth knowledge of writers, texts and contexts in the literary period covered by the course;
- Ability to give individual readings of texts, re-elaborating autonomously the contents of the course, carry out further research on the themes discussed in class, and elaborate personal, motivated opinions on them.
Both the essay topics and oral exam questions are aimed at evaluating the student’s acquired knowledge and skills in re-elaborating what he/she has learnt, and proposing individual interpretations. The assessment of the essay and oral exam will be based on the following criteria:
-failure: no knowledge acquired by the student; improper language, far from the C1 level; no ability to re-elaborate the content of the course, propose individual readings, and articulate personal, motivated opinions;
-pass (18-23/30): minimum knowledge acquired by the student on the authors, texts and contexts discussed in class; on the whole proper language, close to at least C1 level, in spite of some flaws; the student is sufficiently able to re-elaborate the content of the course, express convincing enough opinions, and produce acceptable interpretations of the texts;
-(fairly) good (24-27/30): (fairly) good level achieved in the above mentioned skills and acquired knowledge;
-very good and excellent (28-30/30): all the above mentioned criteria are fully met by the student, who has achieved from very good to excellent results

Other information

- - -