BA English Literature and American Studies

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Literary Landscapes

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL34161
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Many of Britain’s most iconic landscapes are famous thanks to the literature written about them. In this module, we will journey around the literary histories of some of Britain’s best-known national parks: the Lake District; the Peak District; the Yorkshire Dales; and Exmoor in the company of some historic national treasures. Each of these areas has a unique association with nineteenth-century literature, and the identity of each park differently engages with its historical literary heritage. Each national park, though, does use literature as a crucial link between cultural heritage and landscape management. As we move through them, we will ask what the cultural, social and environmental implications are of maintaining these literary landscapes.


This understanding requires interdisciplinary thinking, and to that end we will discover how digital technologies – and digital modes of thought – have transformed the process of creating and utilising maps of literary landscapes. More than this, we will see how these technologies can be used to explore and communicate the practical and future-facing uses to which we can put historical literature. By the end of the module, students will have a thorough grounding in how to use digital mapping technologies, and a critical understanding of how these tools can be used productively and innovatively at the intersection between literary, environmental and heritage studies.


No digital or technical expertise is required for this module.


This course aims to:

  • Introduce students to a number of key texts from the nineteenth century to the present which have changed the ways we might think about literary landscapes
  • Introduce a range of digital mapping technologies, and enable students to use and discuss these technologies with confidence and sophistication
  • Guide students in thinking critically about the role of digital maps in assessing literature’s engagements with place and space
  • Develop interdisciplinary working practices, and to use these to help develop innovative approaches to literary work
  • Foster skills of interpretation and argumentation, and of oral, written and digital self-expression in English through seminar discussion, secondary reading, essay writing and map-making.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the role of digital mapping in modern literary studies
  • Assess the role of physical and cultural geographies in literary works
  • Critical thinking about the relationship between literature and heritage
  • The ability to identify key formal and thematic concerns in works which engage with literary mapping
  • The capacity to use digital maps in literary analysis, and to think critically about how and why we make and use digital maps in the humanities

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the changing role of literary mapping since the early nineteenth century

-Evidence an understanding of the role that technological developments – especially the digital – have played in transforming literary maps

- Apply their analytical skills to assess and analyse the potential and limits of digital mapping technologies, and render them meaningful for the analysis of various kinds of literary geographies

-Explain and critique how the role of advanced digital mapping technologies in textual analysis

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

-        Engage in discussion and critical evaluation of various digital mapping technologies, and decide when and how a digital map can be useful for in textual analysis.

-        Independently create digital literary maps

-        Think critically about the relationships between map and text, and between digital technologies and written works

Evidence knowledge of the key debates in digital literary geographies

Practical skills

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to:

-        Build basic maps in Google Maps, Google Earth, ArcGIS Online

-        Use different kinds of datasets to develop new interpretations of cultural landscapes and the texts written about them

-        Negotiate interdisciplinary practices and channel these towards meaningful interpretations of literature

-        Conduct effective contextual research into both texts and technologies

Demonstrate the ability to think critically and responsibly about the use of digital technologies in humanities study

Transferable skills and personal qualities

On successful completion of the course unit, students will be able to:

  • Present information, ideas and arguments, orally, in writing and on digital maps, with due regard to the target audience
  • Offer original interpretations of written works and digital maps in an ordered, lucid and focused way
  • Demonstrate the ability to think flexibly about their subject and approaches to it
  • Participate constructively in group activities (e.g. class discussions and group map-making)
  • Assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others
  • Effectively manage a small independent research project


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Written assignment (inc essay) 75%

Digital Literary Map 25%

Feedback methods

Written feedback on summative assessment and the digital literary map (see above); all coursework feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assignments. Verbal feedback will be provided on the presentation. Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment) will be actively encouraged throughout the semester. A final essay support session will be held in the lecture hour in Week 12, with drop-in help in the final seminar.

Recommended reading

Cooper, David, Christopher Donaldson and Patricia Murrieta-Flores (eds.), Literary Mapping in the Digital Age (Routledge, 2016)

Dodge M. (2017) “Cartography I: Mapping deeply, mapping the past.” Progress in Human Geography, 41, pp. 89-98

Donaldson, Christopher, Ian N. Gregory and Patricia Murrieta-Flores, “Mapping Wordsworthshire: A GIS Study of Literary Tourism in Victorian Lakeland.” Journal of Victorian Culture, 20 (2015), pp. 287-307

Harmon, Katherine (ed.), You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (Princeton Architectural Press, 2004)

Heuser, Ryan, Franco Moretti and Erik Steiner (2016a) “The Emotions of London.” <>

Jones, Michael, ‘The Elusive Reality of Landscape: Concepts and Approaches in Research), in J. M. Fladmark (ed), Heritage: Conservation, Interpretation and Enterprise (Routledge, 1993; 2013)

Scarfuto, Rosalinda, ‘Literary Routes: Contributions to Natural/Cultural Heritage Tourism. How landscape transforms literature and tourism’, Almatourism 4 (2013)

Wood, Jason and John K. Walton (eds), The Making of a Cultural Landscape: The English Lake District as Tourist Destination, 1750-2010 (Routledge, 2013)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joanna Taylor Unit coordinator

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