The Anthropocene: The Future of the Human/ities (w/Germ 592A)
This graduate seminar proposes to introduce students to prominent critical idioms of the humanities in the 21st century, particularly as they pertain to the Anthropocene hypothesis. While the entanglement of industrial activity and planetary systems has been expressed within the geosciences in the informal designation of a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene—this term is also becoming an occasion to critically reexamine the place of the earth in the Humanities. Amidst the increasing recognition of the intervention of the anthropos into earth systems, this seminar draws on and extends the inroads that the geos has recently made into traditionally humanistic domains, including geophilosophy, geocriticism, geontology, geopoetics, and geopolitics. How is the legacy of 20th century critical thought and theory challenged by catastrophic climate change and ongoing ecocides? How can literature contend with new climate regimes?
Through readings in the German tradition and beyond, including Kleist, Hoffman, Grass, Frisch, Wolf, and Sebald, the seminar proposes to explore how writers in a geo-poetic tradition inform our current geologic self-understanding. Readings will be oriented around four principal environmental threats associated with the Anthropocene and corresponding aesthetic, political, and ethical questions: 1) pollution 2) extinction 3) terraforming and 4) climate change. Theoretical readings are drawn mostly from contemporary voices as they engage with 20th century paradigms, including Chakrabarty, Grosz, Povinelli, Yusoff, Parikka, Rigby, Colebrook, and Zylinska. The language of instruction is English. Primary readings will be available in both German and English.