Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Mike Goode


British;Climate;Ecocriticism;Environmental Justice;Irish;Romanticism


Climate Justice Before the Anthropocene examines British and Irish Romantic literature through the lens of climate. The tail end of the Little Ice Age and two volcanic eruptions halfway around the world contributed to severe and unpredictable climate patterns in the British Isles between 1790 and 1820 that exacerbated existing social inequities and economic distresses. In poems and novels that engaged with this extended climate crisis, the project argues, we encounter an emergent discourse of environmental justice that undercuts the celebrations of “nature,” the advocacy of human and animal rights, and the defenses of art that scholars so often identify with British Romanticism and that sometimes also surface in these same texts. These nascent conceptions of environmental justice show up most cogently in the writing of women authors, especially those writing within or about imperial or colonial contexts. To develop this argument, I put a variety of archival sources and recent historical and theoretical writings on climate in dialogue with literary texts as various as the poetry of William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Catharine Quigley, the novels of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, and the nonfiction writings of John Gamble and Dorothy Wordsworth. The period sources include personal correspondence, newspaper articles, weather journals, meteorological records, and political cartoons. The project ultimately makes the case that the intellectual, cultural, and political history of climate it traces remains deeply relevant given the extent to which contemporary discourses of environmental justice often remain problematically entangled with rights-based discourses inherited from the Enlightenment.


Open Access