Cultural Representations: Nature and the Environment

Course Number: ENGL 122NE
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 122NE
Quarter: Summer B 2014
Day(s): MTWR
Time: 11:00 AM - 12:05 PM
Location: NH 1109

Each time I dip a living creature into the bath of burning pain, I say, 'This time I will burn out all the animal; this time I will make a rational creature of my own!'

- H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

They think we're all gonna drown down here. But we ain't going nowhere.

- Beasts of the Southern Wild

This course will focus on authors and artists who have inspired or reimagined the stakes of two core environmental movements: animal rights and environmental justice. Along the way, we will explore the affinities and divisions between these two movements in novels, films, comics, nature writing, and journalism. Our central question will be what environmental advocacy looks like in the humanities—what it can be and what it can do. Essentially, how do environmental humanists frame their ideas about nature, science, politics, ethics, race, class, and gender? More broadly, we will ask how art functions as a medium for representing humans as an environment-altering species during our current historical period of rapid environmental change.

Readings: Octavia Butler, Dawn; Ken Saro-Wiwa, Genocide in Nigeria; Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon, Pride of Baghdad; H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Films: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cane Toads: An Unnatural History, Manufactured Landscapes