E339: LITERATURE OF THE EARTH
In this course, we explore how literary narratives shape our knowledge and experience of the natural world. Covering several literary genres over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, we gain critical perspective on how literature informs our planetary and environmental consciousness. Over the course of the semester, we develop a critical vocabulary for thinking about environmental issues while examining the history of concepts such as “nature” and “wilderness” and their entanglements with cultural and literary projects.
E456: TOPICS IN CRITICAL THEORY: LITERATURE AND PHILOSOPHY OF THE NON-HUMAN: PLANTS, ANIMALS, MINERALS
Over the last fifty years, experiments in narrative form have created new ways of seeing and thinking from non-human perspectives. This course examines the theoretical and narrative project of understanding non-human agency, deep ecology, and, as Donna Haraway has described, “multispecies becoming-with.” In the process of taking on the perspective of the animal, plant, and mineral, the texts examined in this course necessarily reconsider what it means to be human.
E333: CRITICAL STUDIES OF POPULAR TEXTS: SCIENCE FICTION
How do we imagine the future in literary texts? From post-apocalyptic landscapes to the alternative worlds of Indigenous futurism, we will analyze a range of speculative realities offered to us in science fiction. This course explores the history of the genre and the topics that continually animate it, including utopia/dystopia/heterotopia, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and resource wars. We will examine science and speculative fiction through a range of media (novels, films, short stories, manifestoes, etc.) and think critically about the questions it poses concerning science, community, ecology, colonialism, and the future of the human species.
E630: “HACKLES RAISED: ON BEING CLOSE TO ANIMALS” (GRADUATE LEVEL)
CO-TAUGHT WITH DR. DAVID BUNN
This interdisciplinary course considers a long history of ideas and debates about human/animal relationships through literary texts, theory, and film. We will engage with the upsurge of recent scholarship focused on the animal, species-being, and the post-human. Focused on human-animal proximities, encounters, and companionships, this course will draw an arc from pre-Enlightenment distinctions between human and animal being to the modern nostalgia for primal moments of proximity to animals as a determining feature of late capitalist culture. We will examine texts by authors and theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Amitav Ghosh, Donna Haraway, Eben Kirksey, Indra Sinha, and Karen Yamashita.
E636: ENVIRONMENTAL LITERATURE AND CRITICISM (GRADUATE LEVEL)
This course is a focused examination of environmental literature and film, from the early twentieth century to the present day. We will cover a range of literary genres, and, in the process, learn to think critically about how texts not only represent the natural world but also narrativize and shape our interactions with it. Over the course of the semester, we will examine texts utilizing critical frameworks informed by environmental justice, feminism, (post)colonialism, and Indigenous perspectives. Readings may include the work of authors and theorists such as Warren Cariou, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Amitav Ghosh, Helon Habila, Donna J. Haraway, Ursula K. Heise, Lydia Millet, Jeff VanderMeer, and Kyle Powys White.
E340: LITERATURE AND FILM STUDIES
This course will consider pairings and adaptations of literary works and films to examine narrative authority, perspective, objectivity, and realism across media. We will analyze the specific formal strategies of novels, short stories, personal narratives, fictional films, documentaries, and reportage to think about questions such as: What does it mean to have an “objective” or “subjective” point of view? What are the conventions that define “realism” or “objectivity” for certain historical moments and media? Whose reality is represented and whose is obscured? We will investigate how writers and filmmakers formally experiment with and challenge narrative authority, often by attempting to depict multiple perspectives or to critique the project of realism through the form itself. Specially, we will be examining an array of depictions of American experiences and social realities over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in adaptations between fictive and non-fictive films and texts.
LB393: CULTURAL EXTRACTION: ENERGY IN THE HUMANITIES
CO-TAUGHT WITH ERIKA OSBORNE
For most of us, “energy” is an abstract term that we only encounter during momentary experiences – when we light a fire, get our winter electric bill, or hear about an oil spill. This course will provide a rigorous introduction to “Energy Humanities,” by examining the relationship between energy and our daily lives through literature, art, film, and theory. Students will embark on a series of field trips to witness the artifacts of energy infrastructures along the Front Range, including coal, solar, natural gas, and entirely new technologies in the making. Drawing on these experiences, students will co-create a mock-museum on campus titled, “The Museum of Energy Transitions Real and Speculative.” This “museum” will examine our current energy transition as if looking back from the future with student-created images, texts, narratives, objects, and histories.
E370: AMERICAN LITERATURE IN CULTURAL CONTEXTS: “CLIMATE FICTION”
In this course we will consider the challenge of representing climate in American literature and film, from the early twentieth century to the present day. Climate has traditionally referenced the weather it gathers, the mood it creates, and the setting it casts. In the era of the Anthropocene, climate indexes not only natural forces but the whole of human society: the fuels we use, the lifestyles we cultivate, and the possible futures we may encounter. In other words, with every weather event, we are aware that the forces indexed by climate are as much environmental and physical as they are social and cultural. We will consider the emerging genre of “Cli-Fi” (“climate fiction”) and a range of related themes such as adaptation, human engineered weather, water wars, Indigenous knowledge frameworks, and environmental justice. Readings may include the work of authors and theorists such as Paolo Bacigalupi, Amitav Ghosh, Ann Kaplan, Barbara Kingsolver, Naomi Oreskes, Kim Stanley Robinson, Patricia Smith, and Kyle Powys White.