Landcape and the Social Imaginary: Romantic Landscape and Cyberspace
ENGL 236 - Fall 2004, Alan Liu
This course consists of two parts:
I. Romantic Landscape (7 weeks) This part of the course attends to the specificity of Romantic landscape during the so-called British "long 18th century" or (in art history) "great century"—i.e., to the unique contribution of Romanticism to an era when in great part landscape was art and art was landscape. Rivaled perhaps only by the novel, with which it was on intimate terms, landscape was the epic of the times. It was the familiar of that other great Romantic epic form: autobiography. This part of the course concentrates on the writings of the Wordsworth circle and the paintings and watercolors of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner. These materials are developed against a backdrop that includes 18th-century writers and painters, the aesthetic theories of the picturesque and sublime, and the history and theory of "descriptive" genres (including georgic and locodescription).
II. New Forms of Landscape (3 weeks) Whether developed in conceptual, metaphorical, or virtual form, navigable space—and often specifically landscape—is important to the contemporary artistic imagination. The course will conclude by exploring several instances of landscape imagination in recent installation art ("land art") and in digital media. Materials include: the art of Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long, MOOs, the writings of Sue Thomas, Riven, and Charlotte Davies's Osmose and Ephemere. The wager of the course is that we can learn something about the use of landscape as a major form of the social imaginary if we juxtapose Romantic poets and artists walking through nature and contemporary poets and artists browsing or navigating the networks.
The course is supported by an Online Image Gallery (login required).
Office and Office Hours
T, 2:00 PM4:30 PM
Stephen Gill, ed., William Wordsworth (Oxford UP)
William Wordsworth, The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850 (Norton)
Harold Bloom, ed., Romanticism and Consciousness: Essays in Criticism (Norton)
Sue Thomas, Hello World: Travels in Virtuality (Raw Nerve Books)
10% Presentation of Essay Idea
10% Prospectus for Essay (posted to Course Online Forum)