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Literature of the American Environment – 16th cent. to the p

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 2


The first six sessions of this seminar will focus on accounts of Eastern North America from the 17th to the 19th centuries, during the colonial and post-colonial eras. Defined as non-fiction prose, these accounts generally rely on two traditions: the travel genre, that provides the narrative framework, and the science of natural history, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “the facts relating to the natural objects, plants, or animals of a place; the natural phenomena of a region as observed or described systematically”.

We’ll be more particularly interested in authors such as John Lawson, John Hector St John de Crèvecoeur, John and William Bartram, Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Wilson. Their accounts stand as examples of American self-creation. They also provide an insight into colonial attitudes towards the natural environment and the Indigenous and slave populations.

Selected readings from these authors will be provided electronically.

This seminar will be conducted in English. International students are welcome.

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Contrôle des connaissances

You will be evaluated in two different ways: one oral/ one written. At the beginning of the semester (week 2) each student will sign up for one oral presentation either in the first or the second half of the semester. Students will also complete a piece of written work from a list of topics concerning the other half of the semester.

Students who cannot attend the seminar on a regular basis are invited to contact both Laurence Machet and Susan Barrett by email early in September. They will have to write a paper on each half of the semester.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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Required reading

All the texts on the syllabus will be made available on the Bureau Virtuel in September once you have joined the group. The selection of texts will depend on the number of students enrolled in this course.


Recommended reading

  • Ashcroft, Bill, The Empire Writes Back : Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures (NY, 1989)
  • Bhabha, Homi K., (ed.) Nation and Narration (London, 1990)
  • Clifford, James and George E. Marcus, eds., Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley, 1986)
  • De Vos, Paula, “Pursuit of Empire in Eighteenth Century Spain”, Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 40, n°2 (Winter 2007), 209-239.
  • Dugatkin, Lee Alan, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose – Natural History in Early America, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  • Farber, Paul Lawrence, Finding Order in Nature – the Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to E.O. Wilson, Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2000.
  • Franklin, Wayne, Discoverers, Explorers, Settlers: The Diligent Writers of Early America, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.
  • Hooper, Glenn and Tim Youngs (eds), Perspectives in Travel Writing, Aldershots: Ashgate, 2004Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York, 1983)
  • Nye, Russel Blayne, The Cultural Life of the New Nation, 1776-1830, New York, Harper and Row, 1960.
  • Porter, Charlotte M., The Eagle’s Nest. Natural History and American Ideas, 1812-1842 University of Alabama Press, 1986.
  • Pratt, Mary Louise, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, New York: Routledge, 1992.
  • Said, Edward, Culture and Imperialism (New York, 1994)
  • -----------------, Orientalism (New York, 1978)
  • Welch, Margaret. The Book of Nature. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998
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