Conceptualizing the Environment (LIT4535.01)

Paul La Farge

Is there still such a thing as the natural world in 2021, and, if so, how do we conceptualize it? By way of answering this question, we’ll read work by philosophers, anthropologists, biologists, and literary critics, all of whom in one way or another pose the question of how to think about nature in the midst of the Anthropocene. Can we, as humans, de-center the human? Can we imagine our engagement with the environment in ways that are neither utopian nor apocalyptic? What vocabularies, what concepts might help us to do these things? Readings by Charles Sanders Pierce, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari, Donna Haraway, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Eduardo Kohn, Timothy Morton, and others.

Learning Outcomes:
WARNING: taking this class may lead to

--a sense of how our idea of nature, and of our place within it, has changed in the last half-century or so;
--increased proficiency at reading 'theory' and other conceptually dense modes of discourse;
--the formulation of your own critical responses to these readings, and possibly
--the experience of investigating a natural (whatever that means) phenomenon, and articulating your own concept(s) of it.

Delivery Method: Remotely accessible
Prerequisites: Interested students are requested to email, with (1) a statement of their reasons for being interested in the class, and any relevant knowledge/experience they already possess; and (2) a 4-5 page writing sample by May 6, 2021.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 10:30AM - 12:20PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Literature , Remotely Accessible