Cultures of Extinction
ENGL 265 w/GERMAN 298A: Cultures of Extinction
This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding one of the more wicked problems of the 21st century: mass species extinction, or Th e Sixth Extinction, as it is often known. Rather than approaching this event as a discrete biological phenomenon, this course looks at how current t hreats to bio-diversity are implicated in, and connected to, threats to cultural diversity, in particular language loss. We will seek to understand how discourses of extinction, beginning from its “discovery” in the 18th century, are related to fraught histories of colonialism and imperialism, w hose ecological and cultural effects extend into the present and threaten to shape the future.
While the course seeks to grasp the scale of the Sixth Extinction, it will also critically reflect upon, and propose alternatives to, the dominant a pocalyptic narratives in which extinction is framed in the popular imagination. Course readings and critical texts drawn from across the humanities and social sciences will explore and critique various framings of “the end” in literature, art, music, and film.
This course is open to majors across the university. English is the language of instruction and course readings. This course satisfies the diversity requirement (DIV) as well as VPLA.