English 166

Special Topics: Studies in Literature and Environment

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2010 François, Anne-Lise
Francois, Anne-Lise
MWF 10-11 136 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Austin, Mary: Land of Little Rain; Carson, Rachel: Silent Spring; Leopold, Aldo: Sand County Almanac; Rosseau, J. J. : A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality; Sarris, Greg: Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; Thoreau, Henry David: Walden; Wordsworth, Dorothy: Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals; course reader will include selections from Abbey, Basho, Berger, Carson, Clare, Davis, Haraway, Hass, Jewett, Masumoto, Muir, Pollan, Oliver, Snyder, Solnit, Thompson, Williams, Wordsworth.

Films: Baichwal/Burtynsky: Manufactured Landscapes; Haynes: Safe; Herzog: Grizzly Man; Scott: Bladerunner; Varda: The Gleaners and I


What does literature have to teach us about contemporary debates on genetic engineering, food politics, toxic pollution, global warming, e-waste, species extinction and the “death of the planet”? How can literary study help us understand the figures of silence, slowness, and invisibility defining environmental discourse? How can we understand the problematic concept of “nature” in modern literature and what do ideas about race and gender have to do with it? What kinds of literacy are specific to certain places and not others? This course will address these questions by examining the role of language and literature in making possible different kinds of interaction between people and environments. Topics will include: animal-human-machine-continuums; relations between people who work the land and those who tour it; the role of memory and imagination in writing about place and the loss of place; weather-reporting and other ways of counting time; fantasies about ecological disaster and science’s ability to save or destroy humankind.

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