This course is cross-listed with ENV S 122NE.
This course is applicable to the English major's Literature & Environment specialization.
Over the past three decades, sustainability has become the major framework through which we understand our current environmental crises and articulate environmental goals. The term, in fact, seems to be everywhere- from campus groups, to residential developments, to websites that calculate how many earths would it take to sustain the world’s population if everyone lived as you do. But as a concept, it has been under investigated. This course will focus on representations of environmental sustainability in literary and cultural texts from the Bruntland report of 1987 to the present day. In addition to tracing the history of sustainability, the course will revolve around the following questions: What is sustainability good at achieving? How does it accommodate nonhumans? Why and how has the term been so easily adopted into regular consumer culture? Does it cover up class, race, and geographical politics? How does the concept of sustainability function in a world with a changing climate? Can sustainability, in fact accommodate change?
The course will attempt to answer these questions by looking at representations of sustainability in science fiction, nature writing, memoirs, scientific experiments, contemporary art exhibits, digital media, and films.
Readings will include: Dawn by Octavia Butler, The Disposessed by Ursula K. LeGuin, A Small Place by Jamaica Kinkaid, selections from The Bruntland Report, selections from E.O. Wilson, and more.
Films will include: Sharkwater, Story of Stuff, The Island President.