Everglades Romanticism

Everglades Romanticism

—syllabus PDF—

Devin M. Garofalo, Florida Atlantic University
English 4243, Fall 2018

Course Description

What’s in a name? Once spanning nearly 4,000 square miles, the tropical wetlands of Florida have been called many things by different communities. The indigenous peoples known today as the Seminoles originally called them “Pa-hay-Okee,” or “grassy waters.” Arriving in the 1500s, the Spanish preferred “Laguna del Espiritu Santo” or “Lake of the Holy Spirit.” Centuries later, the British-appointed John William Gerard DeBrahm used the phrase “River of Glades” on his 1773 surveyor map. The wetlands would appear for the first time as “The Ever Glades” on Charles Blacker Vignoles and H. S. Tanner’s 1823 “Map of Florida.” These names mark the intimacies between histories of empire and environment that continue to shape our present. The very name “Everglades” conjures visions of a vast, impenetrable, sublime expanse. It also names the anthropocentric fantasy of a planet whose resources are infinite, endlessly ripe for the claiming, the taking, the exploiting. Thus, in 1904—almost 100 years after the Everglades acquired its now iconic moniker—Napoleon Bonaparte Broward (namesake of Broward County) was elected governor on the promise he would make an “Empire of the Everglades.” Envisioning South Florida as the second coming of ancient Egypt, Broward proclaimed Floridians would drain the swamp and thus master it as Egyptians had the Nile.

But what, you may be wondering, do the Everglades have to do with British Romanticism? The answer to this question, per the polemic of this course, is: everything! We might make the case for an Everglades Romanticism on the basis of dates. In 1763, the British Empire acquires the colonial territories of West and East Florida from Spain. Major British Romantic figures and concerns also emerge around this time: Jean-Jacques Rousseau traces the relationship between natural law and possessive individualism in 1755, Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant theorize their respective notions of the sublime in 1757 and 1764, James Watt conducts experiments with steam that result in his 1769 patenting of the steam engine, and Anna Letitia Barbauld begins writing influential lyric poems on subjects as varied as intergalactic travel and the Corsican Revolution. We might also look beyond dates to a twinning of empires: Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, governor of Florida and self-styled Emperor of the Everglades, was named for the Napoléon Bonaparte, Romantic-era Emperor of France. Or we could think less literally, which is to say conceptually, about how the Everglades help us make sense of British Romanticism. Why might it be critical to contextualize British Romantic investments in liberal ideals like freedom or equality in a world of colonial conflict and revolutionary insurrection stretching from Europe to the Everglades and beyond? In what ways do Romantic fantasies of conquest and daydreams of untouched paradise take overt shape in the Floridian swamp? How do the Everglades mark the spot of racialized infection and natures run amok? And at the very same time become a launchpad for the imagination unbound?

This course will show the ways the Everglades helps us make sense of British Romanticism’s most formative complexities and contradictions. It will also demonstrate how the relationship between the two is not a one-way street. Thus, we will also explore how British Romanticism helps us better understand the Everglades, past and present, then and now. How might lyric poetry—that most Romantic of genres—afford a language for tracing the category of the human and its exclusions central to Floridian histories of colonial encounter and dispossession? What might Romantic thought tell us about the Everglades as a site of conservation by dispossession—a place in which empire and erasure emerge not as antithetical to environmentalism but rather as its precondition? Or how might Romantic science and industry help us better understand the diminishing Everglades and uninterrupted coastal development? How might British Romanticism help us track the crossovers between natures that are on the one hand particular to South Florida and, on the other, illustrative of the environmental crises encompassed by what some now call the Anthropocene? In this course, we will read across a wide range of texts and genres, each of which offers its unique interpretation of these questions.

Course Schedule

**denotes readings available for download on Canvas

Week 1: “Florida Fever” & Everglades Romanticism

Royal Proclamation of 7 October 1763 by King George III “Exhortation to Gentlemen of small Fortunes to settle in

East Florida”
William Bartram, Travels (selections)**
Charles Blacker Vignoles, Observations upon the Floridas

Albery A. Whitman, The Rape of Florida (selections)** Charles Blacker Vignoles & H. S. Tanner, “Map of

Michael Grunwald, “A Requiem for Florida” (Politico)**

Week 2: Atlantic Intimacies

Declarations of Rights: America, France, Haiti** Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman

William Wordsworth, “To Toussaint L’Ouverture” Anna Letitia Barbauld, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, “Freedom to the Slave”**

Week 3: Lyric Powers, Figures of Speech

William Bartram, Travels (selections)**
Anna Letitia Barbauld, “A Summer Evening’s Meditation” Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode to the West Wind”
John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale” & “Ode on a Grecian

Urn” John Clare, “I Am”

William Wordsworth, preface to Lyrical Ballads & “The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman”

Week 4: Romantic Natures & Broward’s “Empire of the Everglades”
William Bartram, Travels (selections)**
Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden (selections)** François-René de Chateaubriand, Atala (selections)**

Lord Byron, “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte”** & “Napoleon’s Farewell”**

Alexander von Humboldt, Cosmos (selections)**
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward II, “Open Letter”** & “The

Call of the Everglades”**

Week 5: Counting, Collecting, Displaying

William Bartram, Travels (selections)** William Wordsworth, “We Are Seven”
Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
John Keats, “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles”** Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”

Week 6: Pleistocene Dreams

Anna Letitia Barbauld, “Corsica”**
Charlotte Smith, Beachy Head
Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Mont Blanc”
James Hutton, Theory of the Earth (selections)**
Georges Cuvier on catastrophism and Pleistocene fossils**

Week 7: Swamp Sublime, Subtropical Wilderness

Edmund Burke, Philosophical Enquiry (1757)**
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan” & “Christabel” William Wordsworth, The Prelude (selections)
Herman Ottomar Herzog, The Fox, Near Gainesville (image

linked on Canvas)**
George Loring Brown’s Midnight on the Okefenokee Swamp

(image linked on Canvas)** Tommy Pico, Nature Poem (selections)**

Week 8: Miasmatic Climates & Climactic Weather

William Bartram, Travels (selections)**
William Gilbert, The Hurricane (selections)**
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Fears in Solitude”
Helen Maria Williams, “Sonnet to the Torrid Zone”** John Clare, “The Mouse’s Nest”**
William Cullens Bryant, “The Hurricane”**

Week 9: Ecologies, Invasives, Extinctions

William Wordsworth, Lucy poems & “Resolution and Independence”

Lord Byron, “Darkness”
John Clare, “To the Snipe,” “The Badger,” & “Silent Love” Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology (selections)**
Alexander von Humboldt, Cosmos (selections)**

Week 10: Landscape, Enclosure, Conservation by Dispossession

William Gilpin, Essay on Prints (selections)**
Excerpts from Inclosure, Indian Removal, and Everglades

National Park Acts**
William Wordsworth, “Lines written a few miles above

Tintern Abbey”
Franćois-René Chateaubriand, Atala (selections)**
John Clare, “The Lamentations of Round-Oak Waters”** &

“The Lament of Swordy Well”** “The Emigration of the Seminoles” (1842)**

Week 11: Draining the Swamp & Urbanization

William Bartram, Travels (selections)**
William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience
William Wordsworth, “Michael” & “Composed Upon

Westminster Bridge”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Act IV of Prometheus Unbound The Florida East Coast Homeseeker (selections)**

Week 12: Anthropocene Natures

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
William Wordsworth, “The World is Too Much With Us”** UNESCO Re-designation of Everglades National Park as


Week 13: Romanticism Meets Area X

Caspar David Friedrich, “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” (image linked on Canvas)

Alex Garland, “Annihilation”

Week 14: Romanticism Now

Presentations of capstone essay assignments.


Sample Assignment: Everglades Romanticism ROMANTICISM IN AREA X

Due Date:
Thursday, December 6th at 12:00pm. Submit your assignment to Canvas in .doc or .docx format and bring a

hard copy to class for use during your presentation.

To craft an essay which considers the crossovers between Romantic literature and our Everglades present. This assignment builds on a semester’s worth of conversations about how the Everglades help us make sense of Romanticism’s most formative complexities and concerns, as well as how Romanticism might help us better understand the aesthetic, environmental, and political histories which converge and remain very much alive in the Everglades.

The title of this assignment invokes Alex Garland’s “Annihilation,” a film wherein the Floridian swamp becomes the launchpad for an ever-expanding and -mutating territory called Area X. The challenge of this assignment is equal parts critical and speculative. In approximately 750 words, identify one pressing aesthetic, environmental, and / or political question or problem haunting the Everglades (and / or South Florida) today. Use a Romantic text of your choice to then explore that question or problem’s backstory and complexities. Your ultimate goal in this assignment is to consider how Romanticism helps us better understand our Everglades present. This is an open-ended assignment. The only requirements are as follows:

  1. Takeasyourpointofdepartureaclosereadingofonepassage(twoatthemost)foundinyour chosen Romantic text. Your essay should, in other words, be inspired and guided by a particular moment in (or feature of) a course text of your choice. Your close reading of the text should inform and support any and all claims made.
  2. Bring your chosen Romantic text to bear upon your chosen Floridian question or problem. Whatever you choose to discuss, your essay should be focused and specific (rather than generalizing and vague). This will make for a compelling and nuanced discussion. To support your claims, substantively cite at least one scholarly source and one reputable journalistic source in addition to your primary text. The following journalistic sources are great places to start (others must be approved by me): The Atlantic, BBC, The Guardian, The LA Times, The Miami Herald, National Geographic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, Politico, The Sun Sentinel, The Tampa Bay Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Possible focal points include but are not limited to: race, gender and sexuality, class, and / or questions of legal personhood; the concepts of nature, wilderness, ecology, species, climate, or planet; the intertwinements of environmental and imperial histories; problems of scale (i.e. human history versus deep time); conflicts between different ways of knowing; how figurative language or aesthetic concepts such as the sublime might afford lenses for understanding the Everglades at present; the concepts of landscape, enclosure, property, and / or conservation; calls (past and present) to drain the swamp; the concept of infrastructure and histories of coastal development, South Floridian geoengineering, etc. This list of starting points is by no means comprehensive! If you are feeling stuck, review the syllabus and your favorite readings for ideas.