Michele Speitz specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, with particular interests in Romanticism, critical theory, aesthetics and poetics, and science and technology studies. Dr. Speitz has been the recipient of the Trent R. Dames Fellowship in the History of Civil Engineering from The Huntington Library’s Munger Research Center (2013-2014). Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in SEL Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900: Restoration and Eighteenth Century, Romantic Circles Praxis Series, Essays in Romanticism, and The Keats-Shelley Review. She is currently developing a monograph entitled Technologies of the Sublime, 1750-1861.


Dr. Speitz offers courses on the novel, poetry, aesthetic theory, literature and the environment, the philosophy of technology, science fiction, and literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is an Affiliate Faculty member with the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability as well as an avid hiker and backpacker.​


Name Title Description


Texts and Meaning

An introduction to the study of the structures and methods by which texts create and convey meaning. Texts and approaches will be determined by individual instructors, but all emphasize reflective, critical reading, as well as text-centered discussions and written assignments.


Interpretive Strategies

Addressing issues and questions specific to literary and cultural analysis and in the process exploring various interpretive strategies through which ideas of the literary and of literary study are engaged. The content and perspective of this course will vary according to instructor. Students will read primary theoretical texts, and will write about how theories of literature might inform ways of reading prose, poetry, drama, and/or film. By the end of the term, students should have a sense of how over the years critical debate has shaped the many practices of reading literature.


Literature and the Environment

Focus on works commonly considered major examples of environmental writing and examine the theoretical/critical considerations involved in reading these works. Writers include: James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Mary Austin, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Barry Lopez will be read and discussed. Theoretical problems such as the relation of writing to lived experience and the justice of emphasizing all life over human life will help focus discussions. Class participation demonstrating considered familiarity with assigned reading will be required, as will written work demonstrating thoughtful command of issues raised by the course.


Fantasy & Science Fiction

Exploration of how race, colonialism, gender, science, the sacred, and the human inform our fantasies about other worlds and times. May trace dialogue between contemporary fantasy/science fiction and literature of other periods.


British Romantic Literature

The major writers and some less well-known figures from the period 1790-1830: the poets Blake Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, P. B. Shelley, and Keats; the novelists Austen and Scott; the essayists Hazlitt, Lamb, and De Quincey; and others like Mary Shelley, Godwin, and Clare. Introduction to both literary and critical writing of the period as well as to the current critical and theoretical issues, mainly rhetorical and historical, that engagement with these writers entails.


Studies in Fictional Histories

How does literature shape the ways in which one imagines historical figures, national events, or remote geographies? How do partially fictionalized reconstructions of experience influence historical understanding? This course theorizes the often porous borders between history and fiction. Students will examine archival material, historical documents, and theoretical studies alongside fictional works that do not simply reimagine the past but profoundly recast national histories.


Senior Seminar in English

Course topic changes with each offering.


Environment and Society

Interdisciplinary examination of the causes, potential solutions and ethical dilemmas associated with environmental problems on various spatial, temporal, political and social scales (individual to global).


Human Animal or Human Machine

How do technologies shape our understanding of the universe, the environment, and humankind? Do feelings expressed in the 18th and 19th centuries about nature, technology, and the work of art-from proud associations with natural talents" to a pronounced shame inspired by mechanical resemblances-influence today's ideas about art


Reinventing Nature

Examining romantic-era and postromantic definitions of nature and the environment in the context of the Anthropocene. Studying nature writing, environmental thought, and wider discourses of nature, students develop deeper understandings of the aesthetics and politics of nature" and gain critical vocabularies necessary for composing meaningful works of ecocriticism. "

University of Colorado at Boulder
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California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo

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