Spring 2020 - ENGL 435W D100

Topics in the Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century (4)

Class Number: 1448

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    RCB 6100, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Margaret Linley
    Office: AQ 6107
    Office Hours: Tues 8:30-9:30am; Thurs 1-2pm
  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300 division English courses. Strongly recommended: One of ENGL 327, 330 or 340. Reserved for English honours, major, joint major and minor students.



Explores issues across nineteenth century literature and culture in a variety of genres and media from diverse geopolitical regions organized by various critical questions and approaches. Students with credit for ENGL 435 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Nineteenth-Century Literary Ecologies  

“Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her”                 
   --William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey (1798)  

“Nature, red in tooth and claw
…shriek’d against [God’s ] creed”                      
   --Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam (1850)  

“By the plague-wind
every breath of air you draw
is polluted, half round the world”          
   --John Ruskin, “Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century” (1884)    

This course examines nineteenth-century literature from an ecological perspective. We will consider how writers “saw” or represented nature and the environment through the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Steam and into the era of coal and oil that continues to shape our world today. Our reading list traces a developing worldwide web of mass communication that forged ever-tighter links between the geographic center of British Empire - England and London - and peripheries like South Africa, central Canada and British Columbia. We will consider how the emergence of mass culture depended on vast amounts of resources drawn from around the world, such as flax and later wood for paper, coal for fuel, water and wind for steam. We will develop ways of thinking about real and imagined environments by exploring how nineteenth-century authors understood the limits of nature, especially the ways they saw the natural world inextricably entangled with culture, society, and political systems, and bound up with colonial power. We will reflect along with them on what nature, including human nature, was and is - and, indeed, what new natures may be. We will engage the period’s energetic debates on the consequences of industrial and colonial practices together with the sense of alarm, even crisis and doom, as well as unspecified mourning and unaccountable loss connected with destruction of natural environments. Most importantly, we will ask why and how these formulations matter today.  

Note: We will also be reading contemporary environmental, postcolonial, queer, and feminist theory as we attempt to develop a working definition of such terms as “nature” and "environment."


  • Final Paper/Project 40%
  • Oral Presentation and Short Paper 35%
  • Bi-Weekly Posts to the CANVAS Discussion 20%
  • Seminar Preparation and Participation 5%


Seminar preparation and participation (5%)
Oral Presentation (15%) and 800-word short paper (20%)
Bi-Weekly Posts to the CANVAS Discussion Page (20%)
Final Paper or Project: includes 250-word proposal and annotated bibliography (10%), and final essay/project (30%)



Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Broadview
ISBN: 9781551115320

Olive Schreiner, Story of an African Farm, Broadview
ISBN: 9781551112862

Tekahionwake: E. Pauline Johnson’s Writings on Native North America, ed. Margery Fee and Dory Nason. Broadview
ISBN: 978-1-55481-191-5

The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Victorian Era, 2nd ed., ed. Joseph Black et al. 2012
ISBN: 9781554810734

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 3rd ed., Broadview
ISBN: 9781554811038

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html