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Imagining Woodlands - ENG00110I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Freya Sierhuis
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2017-18

Module summary

This module, which arose out of the collaboration between artist Jo Dacombe, palaeo-archaeologist Suzi Richer, and literary specialist Freya Sierhuis, aims to inspire you to think about woodlands from a variety of literary, historical, scientific and artistic perspectives, using a conceptual approach focused on notions such as ‘place’ to generate an interdisciplinary dialogue. It will also take you out of the classroom and into the woods, learning directly from scientists, conservationists, and artists. At least one of our workshops will take place at Moorlands Nature Reserve, a wood once part of the ancient forest of Galtres, now run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The workshop will be run by Jo Dacombe, an artist with many years’ experience curating woodland walks, and creating art inspired by the landscapes, spaces and environmental concerns. You will be shown a variety of ways art can convey the experience of a woodland, make visible its complex history and ecology, and you will be given the opportunity to experiment with your own creative response. For your group presentation in week 8, you can choose either a literary topic and approach, or think about developing a creative project, such as a film, a walk, or a digital resource

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Summer Term 2017-18

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To stimulate critical engagement with, and responsiveness to, woodlands in your own lived environment.
  • To gain a basic working knowledge of the history and ecology of the Western European woodland.
  • To gain a historically informed understanding of the role played by forests and woodlands in the cultural and literary imagination.
  • to explore a range of literary and poetic forms through which writers have engaged with woodlands and trees.
  • To examine the relationship between history, environment, and embodiment, through the exploration of walking as a cultural and historically imbedded practice, as well as an embodied, sensory experience.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion o this module, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • A rounded, and historically informed perspective on woodlands from a number of disciplinary perspectives.
  • An understanding of the function and forms of woodlands and trees 19th century Romantic nature poetry, and contemporary nature writing.
  • An understanding of how an interdisciplinary dialogue between the sciences and the humanities can foster a deeper understanding of our lived environment.
  • A critically informed understanding of the relevant debates in the environmental humanities, and central concepts on which these debates are focused.
  • That they can successfully manage a collaborative project, making use of digital tools where appropriate.
  • That they can deliver a presentation, demonstrating appropriate oral, written, performance, and/or digital skills.


Task Length % of module mark
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Team Presentation
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Teaching for topic modules takes place in the first four weeks of the summer term, and you will have lectures and workshops taught alternately by a literary specialist, a scientist, and an artist.

You will then have a further three weeks to develop the group presentation on which you will be assessed.


Task Length % of module mark
1500 word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on your presentation within two weeks. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is provided in a pedagogical spirit, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you would like to discuss your feedback, please consult your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours.

Indicative reading

Clare, John, The Works of John Clare (The Oxford Authors ed.) Eric Robinson (Oxford: OUP, 1986)

Deakin, Roger, Wildwood. A Journey Through Trees (London: Penguin, 2007)

Evanoff, Richard, Bioregionalism and Global Ethics. A Transactional Approach to Achieving Ecological Sustainability Social Justice and Human Well-Being (2011)

Farley, Paul, and Symmons Roberts, Michael, Edgelands: Journeys into England’s Wilderness (London: Vintage, 2012)

Glotfelty Cheryl and Lynch, Tom, eds. The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology and Place (2012)

Hayman, Richard, Trees: Woodland and Western Civilization (London: Hambledon & London 2003)

Harrison, Robert Pogue, Forests. The Shadow of Civilization (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1992)

King, Angela and Clifford, Susan, Trees be Company (Dartington: Green Books, 2001)

MacFarlane, Robert, Landmarks (London: Penguin, 2015)

Rackham, O. Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape. (London: Phoenix Press, 1990)

Oswald, Alice, Woods Etc. (London: Faber, 2008)

Schama, Simon, Landscape and Memory (London: Harper Collins, 1995)

Solnit, Rebecca, Wanderlust. A History of Walking (London: verso, 2000)

Smit, Jos, The New Nature Writing. Rethinking the Literature of Place (2017)

Tally, Robert T., Geocritical Explorations: Space, Place, and Mapping in Literary and Cultural Studies (2011)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

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