ENVS 044. Environmentally Engaged Literature: Pollutants, Fossil Fuels, and Atomic Bombs
(Cross-listed as ENGL 089B )
Pollutants. Fossil Fuels. Atomic Bombs. In many ways, pesticides, oil, and plutonium structure our lives; they impact our health, our politics, and may even threaten the existence of life itself. Ironically, because these materials permeate nearly every aspect of our existence, the human mind can struggle to comprehend them. In this course, we will read literature that engages with our environment to help us bring humans’ relationship to these materials into focus. Scientific, historical, and economic studies of these materials tend to focus on their scale and widespread impact. Reading poetry, plays, short stories, and novels will allow us to imagine these materials more intimately-through individual, cultural, and aesthetic perspectives. In this course, students will ask: How can literature help us to understand-and perhaps change-our material, economic, and social environments? How has our relationship to materials changed over time? How do environmental and material realities impact cultural production and imagination? Texts under discussion will likely include: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962); Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge (1991); Mark Nowak’s Coal Mountain Elementary (2009); Lesley Battler’s Endangered Hydrocarbons (2015); Andrew Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling (2012); Adam Dickinson’s The Polymers (2013); and two films: Hiroshima mon Amour (dir. Alain Resnais, 1959) and There Will Be Blood (dir. Paul Anderson, 2007). Course requirements include active participation; a close-reading paper; an engaged assignment; and a final research paper. All students are welcome.
Eligible for ENVS, ESCH
Fall 2021. Price.
Catalog chapter: Environmental Studies
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/environmental-studies
Check the Spring 2022 Schedule of Courses
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