BSC Home Page

English Studies at Birmingham-Southern

My Home Page

My Fall Courses

My Interim Project

My Spring Courses

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Papers and Poems

Stowe Landscape Gardens Web Site

English Landscape Gardens Image Collection

EH 349 Literature and the Arts
Spring 2014
MWF 9:30-10:30
Humanities Center 319


This course is designed as one of several offered by the English faculty in the category of breadth. In this particular course we examine the connections among the sister arts of literature, painting, architecture, and landscape gardening during the period of British history often referred to as "The Enlightenment," roughly the period between 1660 and 1800. The reading and writing assignments focus on the cultural values and aesthetic theories that shaped all of the art forms in Britain during the period, and they trace the movement from neo-classicism to romanticism.

One major goal of this course is to reaffirm the inter-disciplinary nature of the liberal arts. Another is to encourage you to evaluate critically the roots of your own cultural and aesthetic values. Rather than promoting one set of values, classroom discussion and reading and writing assignments will examine the relative merits of, for example, conformity and individualism, formality and organicism, simplicity and complexity, or traditionalism and originality. You should expect to learn actively rather than passively, to develop and articulate your own perspectives in written and oral exercises.


Austen, Northanger Abbey
Tatter, ed. Nature and Landscape


The final grade is the average of the grades on the following:
1) the shorter essays (2 @ 15% = 30%);
2) the major project (20%);
3) the laboratory notebook (20%);
4) the final examination (20%); and
5) class participation (10%).


Attendance in body and spirit is mandatory. As in the world of work, you are allowed a limited number of sick days (2) and personal days (2); after that, each absence will reduce your final course grade by a letter grade.

Class attendance is no substitute for doing the assigned reading. Come to class prepared to discuss the literature and the criticism you read every week. In addition, remember that classroom experiences cannot be replicated, so assume that you cannot make up what you miss if you are absent. I believe enough in the importance of your class participation that I assign 10% of your grade to it.

All papers are due at the beginning of the class period on the due date. Laboratory notebooks are to be posted in the forum by noon on the class day following the laboratory session. I will not accept late work unless you and I have made prior arrangements. All written assignments must adhere to proper MLA manuscript form or run the risk of severe penalties. For details of that form, see your handbook. For other rules and regulations, follow this link to my web page on "Deadly Manuscript Sins."


The shorter papers (1200 words each) will require you to apply the theories of nature poetry to one or more of the reading assignments. In the first of these you will show how the pastoral poems of Pope, Gay, Burns, and Wordsworth fit or do not fit the definition of pastorals provided by Samuel Johnson in his Rambler essay. In the second paper you will contrast the portrayal and use of nature in two poems, one by Wordsworth and the other by either Jonson, Denham, or Pope.

The major project, a documented research paper of at least 3000 words, draws distinct parallels between one of the poems or the novel we have read and and a work or series of works from another art form. Appropriate critical material must be included in the paper.

The laboratory notebook serves as a place to record your required responses to material I present to you on painting and landscape gardening as well as your laboratory exercises. Please see the list of laboratory topics and assignments below.

Laboratory Topics and Exercises

Those of you who have completed one or more courses in a laboratory science should be familiar with how the laboratory experience enhances the lecture experience. One way of defining the relationship between the two is to see one as theory and the other as practice. Another way is to see one as primarily passive learning and the other as active. The two perspectives are, I believe, complementary parts of the learning experience. As in your laboratory science classes, you will either choose or be assigned a lab partner for the term with whom you will share the laboratory experiences and discuss the implications of those experiences.

An essential part of the laboratory experience is keeping a laboratory notebook. When I took a series of chemistry classes in college I had to keep a notebook that, for each experiment, detailed the materials I used, the procedure I followed, the calculations I made, and the explanations I offered for why things happened or, more often, didn't happen as they were supposed to. Your notebook will have a somewhat different emphasis than mine, but it will have the same purpose -- to account for the what, how, and why of your laboratory experience in an effort to connect the "laboratory" material with the "lecture" material, to connect literature and the arts. Your notebook will be electronic rather than the typical bound composition book, and each entry is due as a forum posting by noon on the next class day following the laboratory session. The list below provides the topic and assignment of each laboratory session.

Session One: February 23 (Sunday): Birmingham Museum of Art
Armed with a set of questions that I will provide, you and your lab partner will tour the collection of 18th-century painting, sculpture, furniture, and Wedgewood china. You will make notes on what you see as well as post a forum entry (lab partners post separate forum entries) of at least 500 words on what you found most significant and why.

Session Two: March 10: Slide Lecture on Wordsworth Country
As a follow-up to our discussions of Wordsworth's poems, I will show you a series of slides of Tintern Abbey and the Lake District to give you a visual sense of the landscape Wordsworth described in his poems. Using Wordsworth as your model and making specific references to his poems, you will post a forum entry of at least 500 words on a place that has special meaning to you.

Session Three: March 28: Slide Lecture on Painting
As a follow-up to our discussion of Reynolds's Discourses, I will show you a series of slides of paintings in the "grand style" by Lorrain, Poussin, David, and Reynolds himself. After discussing the paintings with your lab partner, you will post a forum entry of at least 500 words on how an event of your choice in history, mythology, or religious tradition might be depicted in the "grand style" and why.

Session Four: April 16: Virtual Stowe Tour
As a follow-up to our discussion of Pope's Epistle to Burlington and other essays, you and your lab partner will tour parts of the landscape garden at Stowe via my Web site. You will post a forum entry of at least 500 words on what you found most significant and why.

Session Five: April 28: Slide Lecture on Painting
As a follow-up to our discussions of the concept of the picturesque as presented by Walpole, Price, Knight, Warton, and Wordsworth, I will show you a series of slides by Constable and Turner that depict the English landscape in ways far more romantic than neo-classical. After discussing the paintings with your lab partner, you will post a forum entry of at least 500 words on how a particular painting by Constable or Turner fits the concept of the picturesque as it is presented by Price and Knight.

Session Six: May 5: Postcards and Picturesque Drawings
Having purchased a postcard earlier in the term, and having scanned it and sent me a copy as an e-mail attachment, you will spend this lab session discussing principles of picturesque composition with your classmates. I will select the postcards for discussion. Your discussion will also include the following. Over the previous two weeks you will have evaluated the campus or some other place for its picturesque qualities, chosen a point of view, and attempted a drawing from life, paying particular attention to the composition and commenting on it afterwards (at least 500 words). During this lab session, you will share the results of your work with your classmates and discuss its theory and execution.

Course Schedule

02/05 Introduction to the course
02/07 Background material

02/10 Pope: Essay on Criticism
02/12 Pope: "Discourse on Pastoral Poetry," The Pastorals
02/14 Spenser: Shepheardes Calender; Gay: Shepherd's Week

02/17 Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Balllads, "Michael"
02/19 Burns: poems
02/21 Johnson: Rambler #37

02/23 Sunday Lab Session: Birmingham Museum of Art

02/24 Jonson: "To Penshurst"; Denham: "Cooper's Hill"
02/26 Pope: "Windsor Forest"
02/28 SEASECS Conference -- no class; First Paper due

03/03 Marvell: "The Garden"; Dyer: "Grongar Hill"; Gray: "Elegy"
03/05 Thomson: from The Seasons
03/07 Wordsworth: from The Prelude and "Tintern Abbey"

03/10 Lab Session: Landscape: Tintern and the Lakes
03/12 Northanger Abbey
03/14 Northanger Abbey


03/24 Addison: Spectator essays
03/26 Hogarth: Analysis; Burke: Philosophical Enquiry
03/28 Lab Session: Painting: The Grand Style; Reynolds: Discourses

03/31 Bacon: "Of Gardens"; Marvell: "The Mower against Gardens"
04/02 Pope: Guardian #173; Shenstone: "Unconnected Thoughts on Gardening"
04/04 Pope: "Epistle to Burlington" Second Paper due

04/07 Goldsmith: "The Deserted Village" Major Project Proposal due
04/09 Crabbe: "The Village"
04/11 Introduction to Landscape Gardening

04/14 Walpole: "The History of the Modern Taste in Gardening"; Gilpin: "On Parks"
04/16 Lab Session: Landscape Gardening: Stowe
04/18 Good Friday -- no class

04/21 Price: "An Essay on the Picturesque"; Knight: "Analytical Enquiry..."
04/23 Warton: "The Enthusiast"; Gray: "The Bard"
04/25 Gilpin: "On Picturesque Travel"; Wordsworth: "On the Sublime and the Beautiful"

04/28 Lab Session: Painting: Romantic landscapes
04/30 Conferences on Major Project
05/02 Conferences on Major Project

05/05 Lab Session: Postcards and Picturesque Drawings
05/07 Major Project due

05/09 [Friday] Final Examination 9:00 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m.

John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College,