Session 1: Ecocriticism

  • Descriptivist definition: the study of humankind’s natural environment as depicted in literature, and of its engagement with that environment.
  • Prescriptivist definition: The study of humankind’s attitude towards its natural environment as depicted in literature, with a view to critically assessing our responsibilities.
Environmental determinism The notion that a society is shaped by the climate and terrain it inhabits. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century thinkers such as Herder saw in this a character-formative influence, but even in the twentieth century, it was common to explain the success or collapse of societies by their climatic context.
Locus amoenus “Pleasant place”: a Classical literary convention describing a pleasant natural setting, commonly found in medieval Latin and Middle English literature but rarely in Old English.