ENGLISH 630 - Special Topics
Section: 001 Queer Ecologies
Term: FA 2018
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

When contemporary environmentalism urges us to become planetary stewards, it often does so in fairly familiar (and familial) terms, asking us to “love the planet,” to save “Mother Earth,” to embody the chaste restraint implicit in mottos like “leave no trace” or “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” And yet the canon of American environmental literature is also full of far more surprising forms of relationality: queer (or otherwise non-normative) forms of love burgeoning in natural spaces, human bodies exposed to – and ultimately consubstantial with – environmental toxins, characters whose primary attachments are to grizzly bears or trees or the lingering ghosts of the dead.

Through close readings of such queerly environmental texts (both on their own terms and in conjunction with ongoing theoretical conversations) we will attempt to determine what possibilities emerge when queer theory and ecocriticism – two fields that historically have been deemed incompatible – come into contact. In the course of our conversations, we will consider how queer theory’s openness to a range of affects, pleasures, temporalities, and relational forms can help environmentalism refine its own definitions and practices of planetary investment. Along the way, we’ll ask questions about pleasure and restraint, promiscuity and commitment, vulnerability and persistence, intimacy and impersonality, present desires and future needs. How might queer theory’s capacity to think beyond norms – beyond the couple form, beyond the nuclear family, beyond reproductive futurity, beyond privatized uses of space – help us to a develop an environmentalism (and an ecocriticism) that can similarly extend beyond the bounds by which it is currently defined – and, we might argue, by which it is currently constrained?

Texts will include novels, short stories, memoirs/creative nonfiction, poetry, films, and performance and visual art, as well as a wide range of scholarship in queer theory, ecocriticism, cultural studies, and critical theory more generally. Assignments will include a class presentation, brief response/position papers, and a culminating final paper.

ENGLISH 630 - Special Topics
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
002 (SEM)
W 6:00PM - 9:00PM
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