Until the post-World War II period, the interdependence of human psychology with our environments was, for the most part, unthought. But the advent of nuclear power forced scientists and humanists alike to think more deliberately about this interdependence. The publication of groundbreaking work on ecology and psychology in the 1970’s, during the First Wave of the contemporary environmental movement, led to what is now a rich interdisciplinary body of work on the subject. This course will introduce you to that body of work, drawing on the work of philosophers (“ecosophy”), scientific psychologists, and psychoanalysts (“eco-psychoanalysis”) that now asks us, not just to understand better our “place” in the environment, but also to understand better the “place” of the environment within our selves. Literature, of course, fictional or otherwise, has always understood the evocative power of these emplacements, from Homer’s fascination with the structure of the city of Troy to the lyrics of Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Let’s Go to Pluto.” So we will be reading selections from Isenberg’s collection State of the Arts: California Writers Talk About Their Work; Young’s collection The Literature of California: Native American Beginnings to 1945; Cortez, On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected Poems; Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles; and John McPhee, Assembling California. Critical/analytical inspirations will include selections from Geoffrey Bateman’s Steps To An Ecology of Mind; Dodd’s Psychoanalysis and Ecology at the Edge of Chaos; and Rust, Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis.
This course counts for the Literature and the Mind and Literature and the Environment specializations.