One of the biggest, if not the biggest, critical issues that we will explore and discuss in the course is what it means to be human in our current time of ecological crisis (global climate change, environmental destruction, and mass extinction). All of the course texts will include as a primary theme the hierarchical dichotomy between humans and the natural world (i.e., nonhuman living things such as animals, plants, insects, and organisms, as well as organic matter such as mountains, oceans, landscapes, lakes, and rivers). The course texts will provoke us to ask and address what it means to be human in the face of this hierarchical dichotomy, which is directly related to histories of imperialism and colonialism.
At some point in the semester, you will be assigned to write one journal entry or create an artistic piece (a poem, story, drawing, short video, or visual creation) that expresses your own personal thoughts and reactions to a particular course text or film, and you will do so by always keeping in mind what it means to be human in a time of ecological crisis, in a time during which humans in the western world have separated themselves from the nonhuman natural world and see themselves as masters over the nonhuman in a nature / culture divide (or a nature / civilization divide). In your entry or creative piece, you can be as personal and imaginative as you like, as long as you address the issue of what it means to be human and also quote or make reference to one passage in the reading or scene in the film. You are encouraged to reimagine or rethink this issue to consider what it means to be a nonhuman (e.g., an animal, a plant, an insect, or even the earths biophysical environment in our current time of ecological crisis. In what ways do any of the course texts compel you to think about your own experiences with the natural world (with nonhuman living things)? What scenes or moments in the course texts remind you of a profound or powerful personal experience with the environment? What parts make you feel and understand resolution or solutions to ecological crisis? Please write your journal entry (at least 3 pages typed and double spaced) or creative your artistic piece for the book or film assigned to you. I will let you know via email by the second week of class (on Monday, Jan. 31) which book or film assigned to you for your entry or creative piece.
Please remove your name on all pages of your entry or creative piece. Your entry or creative piece will be presented anonymously with four others in class, and I will email the entries and creative pieces to everyone and also put them on Blackboard. Leave your name on your entry or piece only if you want all in our class to know that you are the author or artist. The entries or creative pieces will be screened in front of the class and presented by me or volunteers from our class. After presenting the entries and creative pieces, we will discuss together critical issues or questions that come up for each entry and piece. Everyone in our class will have a turn for their entry or piece to be presented in class.
**Please watch the film: Chasing Coral.