Summer 2018 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics

358:275 Cultural History of Now

B6   5/29-7/6  CAC  TTH 6:00-10:00 PM     IANNINI  SC-119

Environmental Writing

 This course provides a general introduction to environmental writing, focusing on nonfiction, novels, and poems from the mid 19th Century to the present day. Our investigations into this tradition will be structured around three fundamental questions: what is environmental literature; what modes of relationship or disconnection between humans and the more-than-human environment does it portray; and how might a deeper understanding of these modes help us address conditions of ecological crisis in the 21stCentury and beyond, including but not limited to anthropogenic climate change and species extinction.

One central premise of the course will be that writers in the environmental tradition, from the mid 19th Century onward, have cultivated forms of moral and geographical imagination that are essential to addressing the ecological predicament in which we find ourselves. The other central premise of the course will be that the invention and development of modern ecological thought, from founding figures such as Henry David Thoreau and Alexander von Humboldt forward, has depended on a history of dynamic interplay between scientific and literary experimentation that has been obscured by the institutional separation of the arts and sciences within the modern university.