Environmental Literature and Media, 1980-present

Professor: Allison Carruth
Institution: University of Oregon
Course Number: 670

Course Website

Course Description:

How should we characterize the “environmental imagination,” to cite critic Lawrence Buell, in a period whose ecological concerns center not only on relatively ancient problems such as air pollution and deforestation but also on newer phenomena like transgenic crops, global climate change, and virtual space? And how might ecocriticism, as a field of literary and cultural studies, account for the interventions that contemporary writers and media artists often stage in Western environmental thought? With a focus on U.S. and Anglophone culture, we will address these questions by putting contemporary literature and media in conversation with three key concepts: biodiversity, biotechnology, and environmental risk. In doing so, we will investigate the ethical and the aesthetic principles that inflect the environmental imaginings of our present.

Primary Materials:

Preparatory Reading:

  • Lawrence Buell, “Space, Place, and Imagination,” from The Future of Environmental Criticism (2005)
  • Greg Garrard, “Futures: The Earth,” from Ecocriticism (2004)
  • Ursula K. Heise, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Ecocriticism,” PMLA(2006)

Criticism + Theory

  • Stacey Alaimo, “Discomforting Creatures: Monstrous Natures in Recent Films” (2001)
  • Ulrich Beck, “Living in the World Risk Society” (2006)
  • Cara Cilano and Elizabeth DeLoughrey, “Against Authenticity” (2007)
  • William Cronon, “The Trouble With Wilderness” (1995)
  • N. Katherine Hayles, Selection from How We Became Posthuman(1999)
  • Ursula K. Heise, “Toxins, Drugs, and Global Systems: Risk and Narrative in the Contemporary Novel” (2002)
  • Evelyn Fox Keller, “Ecosystems, Organisms, and Machines” (2005)
  • Ramachandra Guha, “Radical Environmentalism” (1989)
  • Paul Harvey, Review of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge,”Nature (1998)
  • Daniel J. Kevles, “The Contested Earth” (2008)
  • Daniel J. Kevles, “Patents, Protections, and Privileges” (2007)
  • Bruno Latour, Selection from We Have Never Been Modern (1993)
  • Glen A. Love, “Ecocriticism and Science: Toward Consilience?” (1999)
  • Arne Naess, “The Third World, Wilderness, and Deep Ecology” (1995)
  • Arne Naess, “All Together Now” (on E.O. Wilson’s Consilience) (1998)
  • Val Plumwood, “The Concept of a Cultural Landscape” (2006)
  • Cary Wolfe, “From Dead Meat to Glow in the Dark Bunnies: Seeing ‘the Animal Question’ in Contemporary Art” (2006)