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Literature, Ecology, Catastrophe (ENGL30047)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codeENGL30047
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The Humanities have always been interested in Nature and the non-human or ‘other’, and this has gathered momentum with our increasing awareness of the planet’s vulnerability and our responsibility for averting environmental disaster. The term ‘ecocriticism’ was applied in the mid-1990s to the study of literature and the environment; since then, ecological approaches to critique have rapidly expanded into other areas, encompassing ‘dark ecology’, ‘ecological materialism’, ecofeminist and queer ecological perspectives. This subject covers Romantic conceptions of Nature, evolution, science and species, the ‘wilderness’, human-animal relations, new environmentalisms, utopias, Indigeneity, and narratives about extinction, apocalypse and the posthuman.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should have:

  • a broad understanding of literary conceptions of Nature and the physical world from the Eighteenth Century to the present day;
  • an understanding of relations between literature, science and natural history;
  • an understanding of literature’s capacity to imagine and inhabit life-sustaining worlds; and
  • an understanding of literature’s capacity to think beyond the ‘human’ in the framework of ecological catastrophe.

Generic skills

At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:

  • acquired a transportable set of interpretative skills;
  • developed their capacity for independent research;
  • developed their capacity for critical thinking and analysis; and
  • developed their ability to communicate in writing.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • A 1,500 word essay (35%), due mid-semester
  • A 2,500 word essay (55%), due in the examination period
  • Class participation, including a presentation (10%), throughout semester
  • Hurdle: This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hoursTotal 30 hours: a 1 hour lecture and a 1.5 hour tutorial per week.
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Tennyson, In Memoriam, Norton Critical Edition

    H G Wells, The Island of Dr Moreau, Penguin

    Jack London, The Call of the Wild, Penguin

    Kafka, Metamorphosis, Penguin

    Rachel Carson, The Silent Spring

    Alexis Wright, Plains of Promise, Penguin

    Cormac McCarthy, The Road, Vintage

    Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl, 2009

    Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood, (Little Brown)

    Susan Glaspell, 'The Verge—a Play in 3 Acts - (available for online reading from the Baillieu Library)

    There will also be a Reader for this course.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 10 August 2019