The New Nature Writing

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
08 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA W8F912 Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment

Module description

"In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is a story of the earth" (Rachel Carson)

The New Nature Writing approaches the movement in writing about the natural world that has emerged in Britain over the last decade with the work of authors such as Helen Macdonald, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Macfarlane. Invited writers will add their voices on the construction of nature writing today; field trips will provide time in locales being written about.

Module aims

The aim of the module ‘The New Nature Writing’ is for students to gain an insight into the movement in writing about the natural world that has emerged in Britain over the last decade with the work of authors such as Helen Macdonald, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Macfarlane. Seminars involve close analysis of texts, spirited discussion and ventures into the outdoor classroom beyond the seminar room. Field trips will provide time in locales being written about and writers will be invited into seminars to discuss their writing. There will also be the chance to explore archival materials.

Module learning outcomes

The module outcomes centre on gaining an understanding of the ways in which the natural world and the environment are being written about in these times of climate change and increasing concern for how our species is impacting nature. Students are encouraged to explore their own New Nature writing. In the final assessment, students can choose to evolve and extend their own written responses to the texts explored or to engage more fully with their own writing in the genre.

Module information

Preparatory reading (copies of these books will be needed for the module: please buy them in good time):

Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk, London: Jonathan Cape, 2014
Kathleen Jamie, Findings: Essays on the Natural and Unnatural World, London: Sort Of Books, 2005.
J. A Baker, The Peregrine, London: Collins, 1967

Other reading (marked PC) will be available on Moodle

Full References

Ronald Blythe, At The Yeoman's House, London: Enitharmon, 2011
Mark Cocker, Crow Country, London: Jonathan Cape, 2007.
Roger Deakin, Wildwood: a Journey through Trees, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2007
Roger Deakin, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2008
Richard Mabey, Nature Cure, London: Vintage, 2005
Richard Mabey, Beechcombings: The Narrative of Trees, London: Chatto & Windus, 2007
Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2012
Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk, London: Jonathan Cape, 2014
Kathleen Jamie, Findings: Essays on the Natural and Unnatural World, London: Sort Of Books, 2005
Kathleen Jamie, Sightlines, London: Sort Of Books, 2012
Alice Oswald, Dart, London: Faber, 2002
Jules Pretty, This Luminous Coast, Framlingham: Full Circle Editions, 2011

Learning and teaching methods

* = field trip [these will sometimes take all day] Week 2 - Introduction: General introduction to course, with focus on short indicative passages. Week 3 - Jamie, Findings; Sightlines, pp. 72-89 (PC) Week 4 - Deakin, Wildwood, pp. ix-xiii, 35-45, 151-170; Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, pp. 1-25 (PC); Blythe, At The Yeoman’s House (PC) Week 5 - *Field trip to Bottengoms Week 6 - Macfarlane, The Old Ways pp. 59-81 (PC); Macdonald, H is for Hawk Week 7 - Baker, The Peregrine Week 8 - Mabey, Beechcombings, pp. ix-xiii, 1-98; Nature Cure, pp.1-74 (PC) Week 9 - Alice Oswald, Dart pp. 1-13 (PC); Pretty, This Luminous Coast, Preface, Chp1 and 2 (PC) Week 10 - * Field trip to Little Baddow Week 11 - Conclusions


  • Jamie, Kathleen. (2005) Findings, London: Sort Of.
  • Deakin, Roger; Hastie, Alison; Blacker, Terence. (c2008) Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, London: Hamish Hamilton.
  • Ronald Blythe. (2011) At the yeoman's house, London: Enitharmon Press.
  • Deakin, Roger. (2007) Wildwood: a journey through trees, London: Hamish Hamilton.
  • Mabey, Richard. (2008) Beechcombings: the narratives of trees, London: Vintage.
  • Baker, J. A. (1967) The Peregrine, London: Collins. vol. New York Review Books classics
  • Mabey, Richard. (2008) Nature cure, London: Vintage Books.
  • Joe Moran. (2014) 'A Cultural History of the New Nature Writing', in Literature & History. vol. 23 (1) , pp.49-63
  • Macdonald, Helen. (2014) H is for hawk, London: Jonathan Cape.
  • Richard Long Crossing Stones,
  • Deakin, Roger. (2000) Waterlog: a swimmer's journey through Britain, London: Vintage.
  • Oswald, Alice. (2002) Dart, London: Faber and Faber.
  • Pretty, Jules N. (2011) This luminous coast, Woodbridge: Full Circle.
  • Macfarlane, Robert. (2013) The old ways: a journey on foot, London: Penguin.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay (5,000 words)  02/01/2020  100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr James Canton, email:
Dr James Canton
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Ian Charles Davidson
Professor of English and Creative Writing
Dr Celia Brayfield
Bath Spa University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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