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ENL 3230
British Literature 1616-1780

    April 25: Class 14

      Reading Assignment:

      William Bartram, excerpt from Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida (1791) in course modules

      Coleridge, "Kubla Khan" (see link below)

      Please also refresh your memory of the Vincent Virga piece on Florida in maps from the second class.

      Post 6 Group B -- Response 6 Group A
      WIKI Commonplace Book, Check #3

      Course Evaluations

      Finish discussion of Castaway and adaptation

      Bartram's Travels and our place in Florida

      Course summary

      Review for exam

      Notes and Questions

      This important work was first published in 1791, though it reflects travels that Bartram embarked upon in the years 1772-1777. For those who require a refresher in history, this period (of writing and publishing) is marked by major revolutionary wars that affect the sovereignty of Florida.

      Your excerpt is chapter V from Part II of the Travels, when he travels up river on the St. Johns (which is actually southward) from roughly St. Augustine down to Blue Springs and back up. What you need to know is that Bartram is a naturalist and an artist, and he is on an excursion to collect plants and animals for the wealthy naturalist in England, Dr. John Fothergill, who funds his trip. The territory through which he ranges is technically a British colony, but it is extremely undeveloped, and the native populations of Georgia and other southern colonies have moved south and established residence. He is on his way to a trading post where he hopes to have supplies from England.

      The text interests us not only for its historical representation of the flora, fauna, topography and human inhabitants of eighteenth-century Florida, the place where we now reside, but also because the text has had continued influence on the ways that writers envision Florida. The brief editorial note to the Cosimo Classics edition, presumably by the well-known early 20th century poet/scholar Mark Van Doren, indicates that Bartram's text was a formative influence on Romantic era poets, such as Coleridge and Wordsworth.

      Please take a moment to refresh your memory of Kubla Khan by Coleridge. What imagery does it borrow from Bartram?

      Note any passages in Bartram's text that raise questions for you or seem particularly worthy of further consideration.

      Also consider the tensions between the ostensible goals of furthering trade (commerce, development of the land and communities in Florida, a promotional rhetoric) and the awe and respect for the natural world born of his Quaker appreciation for God's creation. Compare this with Robinson Crusoe.

      Please chart this travel on a map and visualize where and how Bartram covers the landscape of Florida.

      William Bartram is almost as equally esteemed as a scientist as an artist, and his naturalist drawings and watercolors are astounding. You can view some here.

      Notice the representation of Florida nature -- what time of year is he traveling? How is the climate? How is the weather? What surprises you or makes you wonder about this representation of Florida?

      I recommend using the glossary of terms that I have uploaded to course docs to help navigate your way through some of the Latin terms and names for various species. It will help ground your experience of what he is describing and you will realize that you are reading about the flora and fauna all around you.

      Bartram's use of perspective and point of view in this text require some consideration. How does he represent the subjectivity of others -- people, places, animals, in the text? What effect does this have?

      What doesn't Bartram describe that you might expect?

      In terms of the course themes, how does this text compare with Oroonoko, Gulliver's Travels, Rasselas, and Robinson Crusoe? What does it suggest about representations of place in the Enlightenment? Is Bartram's text any more "real" to you than the other fictional texts?

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