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WL 203 - 3 - Ecocriticism: World Literature & Global Ecology


Course Outline:

This introductory course acquaints students with the increasingly essential field of ecocriticism, the study of the ways in which nature is represented in art & thought.  Aimed at students from an array of disciplinary backgrounds, & drawing its primary materials from global fiction, film, & visual art, this interdisciplinary course explores human understandings of nature across historical & cultural boundaries.

Our first task will be to see how Ecocriticism differs from Environmental Criticism – how humans imagine nature in literature and culture, as opposed to the actual fallouts of environmental degradation (including the role that cultural understandings play in this process).  Starting with the key issues and investigative paths set out in the essays in our textbook, our course materials range from the state of nature in a 17th Century South American Colony (Oroonoko), to humans escaping to an abandoned African game park (Tuner of Silences).  En route, we also read about a troubled island paradise in the Dutch East Indies (Ten Thousand Things), & environmental strife in China during the cultural revolution (The King of Trees).  Foremost among the ecocritical models engaged in our short readings will be the notion of the “performativity” of the natural scene – the ways in which cultural & personal responses to environments are shaped by the natural processes going on around us.


Description: Explores the destabilizing potential of literary and artistic genres as they move across cultural lines. Focuses on genres that have traveled widely, such as Gothic horror, utopian fantasy, science fiction or ecocriticism and environmental literature. This course may be repeated once for credit when different topics are offered. Breadth-Humanities.

Students can enroll themselves directly in WL 203- C100 Subversive Genres (5754) on goSFU.