Global climate change has been described as the “end of nature.” What does that mean for art? For literature? What is “nature” anyway? This course will explore the implications for reading, enjoying and thinking about imaginative literature and art in the context of global environmental crisis. In the process, we will think about how literature and art help us to think about humans, nature, and the environment in ways that may not be accessible via scientific, political, or even ethical debate. Over the quarter, we will trace an arc from early environmentalism in the founding of the U.S. National Park system and the “wilderness” movement in the American west, through more recent our struggles to come to terms with oil spills, extinction, and anthropogenic climate change in the 21st century. We will place particular emphasis on environmental justice, the unequal distribution of environmental crises along class, race and gender lines, and the intersections between environmental issues and global health, while also focusing on the ways in which environmentalism intersects with ideas of beauty, religion, and cultural value. Please note: This is an interdisciplinary course. Students from all majors are welcome. No prior English courses required.
Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang. Harper Collins. 978-0061129766
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake. Anchor. 978-0385721677
Indra Sinha, Animal’s People. Simon & Schuster. 978-1416578796