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New courses supported by the Environmental Humanities Initiative

IT/ST 297 Nature in Italian Literature and Film
Four credit hours. Fall 2018. Ferrando

What is the relationship between nature and literature? Can literature have a concrete impact on territory and urban topographies? Who have been the most influential nature writers, poets, and filmmakers in Italy? In this Environmental Humanities Lab, we will read a variety of literary and visual texts ecocritically, or we will analyze the relationship and mutual influence between the written word/images and their surrounding physicalenvironment. We will discuss different forms of nature writing and film from the mid-nineteenth century to 2017 and read the theoretical discourse on nature and the environment that has emerged and shaped our view of the natural world since the 1950s. This Lab includes a Digital Humanities component in the form of an interactive digital exhibit created and curated by the students that shows how major environmental events have altered the soundscape andthe landscape of Italy in the past 200 years. In English.

 


GM 298 Nature Philosophy’s Roots: The Legacy of German Thought in Environmental Humanities
Spring 2019. Bradley

In this environmental humanities course, we will consider the roots of contemporary ecological thought in German philosophy and culture. Beginning with the clash of Enlightenment and Romanticism around 1800, we will trace the subterranean legacy of some wild ideas about the relationship between humans and the natural world. Reading philosophical texts alongside literary works, we will consider the echoes of this thought into the present. In conversation with Maine-based organizations and contemporary philosophers, we will discuss phenomenological (Goethean) science and theories of sym-poeisis and even do some experiments of our own.

 


ST 235 Digital Projects in Environmental History
Spring 2019. Fleming

A project-based Environmental Humanities seminar introducing best digital practices in environmental history. Sessions will include readings, discussions, visiting experts, archival visits, and consultations with advanced practitioners. Students will undertake a major digital research projects in small groups and will communicate their results in a public forum.


Fall 2018

 

AM 229 Art, Community, and Ethical Urban Development
Four credit hours. Lisle

We explore how buildings and neighborhoods can be platforms for art, culture, and community. How might we ethically redevelop urban spaces, constructing sustainable places that value beauty and resident rights over narrow profit logics? In this interdisciplinary humanities lab that foregrounds experiential and community-oriented learning, we will examine artistic, political, and community-based organizations in other cities as models to help us develop our own projects for a more just and equitable Waterville. Previously listed as American Studies 297 (Fall 2017).

 


AY/GS 253 Goods, Gifts, and Globalizing Consumers
Four credit hours. Halvorson

Explores the global cultural diversity and social embeddedness of economic practice. Students gain analytical tools to critically examine global capitalism, consumption/consumerism, markets and their myriad social dimensions through a focus on transactions, exchange, social obligation, class distinction, and labor activities. In-depth case studies apply these insights to debates on topics such as debt, economic inequality, class, and the limits of commodification. Readings, films, and other materials highlight the rich diversity of anthropological perspectives on economic practice, from ethnographies of Wall Street to Malaysian factory work to middle-class formation in Nepal. Previously listed as Anthropology 253. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 


AY 256 Land, Food, Culture, and Power
Four credit hours. Mills

An examination of cultural and political aspects of land and other resource use in contexts of culture contact and/or social change, drawing from a variety of ethnographic examples in different parts of the world. A focus on varied subsistence and resource management systems explores how local forms of livelihood have been incorporated into and challenged by national and global economic relations and structures through processes of colonization and the growth of transnational capitalism. Prerequisite: Anthropology 112.

 


EN 382 Environmental Writing: Writing on Place
Four credit hours. Burke

Creative writing using the workshop method to teach students about the principles, strategies, and achievements of writing about the relationship of human to nonhuman. Focus on the role that place plays in that relationship. Students study professional models, draft exercises, workshop their peers’ writings, and produce finished essays and narratives for a final portfolio.

 


EN322 British Romanticism: Green Romanticism
Four credit hours. Mazzeo

The Romantics were known as the poets of nature, but what was at stake in their relationship to the environment? How did the ecological crises of late 18th-century Europe influence their works? How did Romantic poetry help to shape the history of Western environmentalism? We will study Romantic literature from the perspective of “eco-criticism.” This means that we will be asking how the relationship between people and the landscape is imagined and how it is structured by institutions of class, economics, politics, gender, science, and law.

 


ES/EN 283 Environmental Humanities: Stories of Crisis and Resilience
Four credit hours. Walker

What can literature teach us about nature and environmental justice? Do the humanities and environmental studies share a vision of a sustainable future? Is it possible to understand climate change without telling stories about its uneven global impacts? To address these and other questions, we will examine how the environmental humanities implicitly respond to the “two cultures” debate. We will then investigate the relationship between environmental justice and western societies’ extractive logics, economies, and management of nature. From within this theoretical framework we will analyze novels, poetry, and environmental films.

 


ES 364 Climate Change, Justice, and Health
Four credit hours. Carlson

Examines the impacts of changing climate dynamics on human livelihoods, rights, health, and well-being. Through interdisciplinary readings, class discussions, research projects, and innovative communications, students will engage deeply with data from the natural and social sciences about human impacts, adaptations, and vulnerabilities, as well as explore climate justice activism. Key learning goals include improved information literacy and written and oral communication skills and increased understanding of the ways climate change is impacting the world in which we live. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118.

 


FR 397 Francophone Ecocriticism and Postcolonial Theory in Dialogue
Four credit hours. Maurer

While catastrophic climate conditions in the Western world have been the object of much media coverage, the devastating toll that global warming has had on the rest of the world receives much less critical attention. This course engages with contemporary literature by Francophone activists whose communities are directly affected by rising sea levels, unfettered oil drilling practices, and extreme weather conditions that have created the first climate refugees. Students will learn key concepts of ecocritical and postcolonial theory, the Western nature-writing canon, and postcolonial environmentalist literature. They will analyze representations of apocalyptic narratives in popular movies and bestsellers. Prerequisite: French 231 and at least one other 200-level class, preferably two.

 


HI/ES 397 U.S. Environmental History
Four credit hours. Reardon, E

Examines the complex interplay between nature and culture throughout American history, illuminating humanity’s evolving relationship with the natural world and the ways the environment has shaped human history. Following a survey of Native peoples and the changes brought about by European colonization, we will tackle themes associated with the Western frontier, industrial expansion, conservation, and the emergence of ecological thinking. Lastly, we will explore the historical roots of large-scale social and political movements including progressive era conservation, 20th-century environmentalism, and more recently, sustainability.

 


HI/ST 248 Nuclear Visions, Environmental Realities
Four credit hours. Josephson

Examines the environmental history of nuclear power, peaceful and military. Using a variety of materials from a variety of disciplines and genres of human expression, students will consider the impact of military and civilian nuclear technologies on the environment, including human, machine (nuclear technology), and nature interactions. In a strongly interactive approach, using such primary sources as films, maps, archival documents, political cartoons, letters to the editor, beauty pageants (“Miss Atom!”), and photographs, they will engage questions of energy, nature, and landscape. Environmental humanities course.

 


IT/ST 297 Nature in Italian Literature and Film
Four credit hours. Ferrando

What is the relationship between nature and literature? Can literature have a concrete impact on territory and urban topographies? Who have been the most influential nature writers, poets, and filmmakers in Italy? In this Environmental Humanities Lab, we will read a variety of literary and visual texts ecocritically, or we will analyze the relationship and mutual influence between the written word/images and their surrounding physicalenvironment. We will discuss different forms of nature writing and film from the mid-nineteenth century to 2017 and read the theoretical discourse on nature and the environment that has emerged and shaped our view of the natural world since the 1950s. This Lab includes a Digital Humanities component in the form of an interactive digital exhibit created and curated by the students that shows how major environmental events have altered the soundscape andthe landscape of Italy in the past 200 years. In English.

 


PL 126 Philosophy and the Environment

An introduction to philosophy through prominent questions and themes in environmental philosophy. Topics include the historical context and causes of environmental crisis, anthropocentrism, animal rights, intrinsic value, biocentrism, ecocentrism, and radical social theories, incorporating core philosophical issues in ethics, philosophical anthropology, and nature philosophy. These provide resources for clear and creative reasoning on the philosophical aspects of creating sustainable communities, for reflection on value priorities, and for exploration of relationships between academic work and social responsibility.

 


RE 312 Global South Asia: Literature, Art, Environment

Explores South Asians in their diasporic and transnational context. What contributions are Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Jews, and Sikhs from the South Asian subcontinent making to contemporary global literature, film, art, and environmentalism? How do tradition and modernity intersect in their works? How do they negotiate religion, gender, sexuality, race, class, environmentalism, medicine, and globalization? Includes writings by Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Hanif Kureishi, Bapsi Sidhwa, Amrita Pritam, Atul Gawande; films by Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta; art by Siona Benjamin, Anish Kapoor, M.F. Husain, Arpana Caur, Singh Twins; and the environmentalist works of Vandana Shiva and Maneka Gandhi.

 


Jan Plan

 

EN 237 Postcolonial Pastoral: Ecology, Travel, and Writing
Three credit hours. Roy

A critical examination of the pastoral as a literary genre from a global postcolonial perspective. Conducted in Kalimpong, India, enables students to work with Shiva’s outreach center on biodiversity, ecology, and wilderness. Students combine their interest in civic engagement with a critical study of traditions relating to land, food, ecology, sustainability, and community, emerging in the global south. Students reflect on and write about their experiences of land and community from the perspective of informed observers, participants, and travelers. Fulfills English D requirement. Cost is $3,900. Prerequisite: Any W1 course.

 


Spring 2019

 

EN 120I Inventing Nature in New England
Four credit hours. Gibson

This humanities lab course will combine field trips around Maine with work in the Colby Museum and the rare book room. We’ll read some of the classics of New England nature writing, make our own “field” journals” on Mayflower Hill, and think about how our ideas of and relationships to the natural world are shaped by our knowledge, our technology, and our historical situation. We’ll read prose and poetry, from Emerson to Maine writer Sarah Orne Jewett’s short stories, to modern poetry broadsides in our library’s collection. When spring finally comes we’ll make a field trip to the Maine coast to see for ourselves the world described in Celia Thaxter’s The Isle of Shoals. We will keep journals and write and revise both research essays and journalistic essays. The Presence of the Past humanities lab.

 


EN 247 Science Fictions
Four credit hours. Ardam

Introduces students to the diverse genre of science fiction, a genre that imagines the possibilities and limitations of human experience, thought, and worlds. Topics will include alien encounters, time travel, artificial intelligence and post-human life-forms, and environmental apocalypse. We will read short stories and novels by Wells, Asimov, Dick, LeGuin, Butler, Gibson, Ishiguro, Chiang, Whitehead, Mandel, as well as explore science fiction in film (Blade Runner, Arrival) and television (The Twilight Zone, Battlestar Galactica, Orphan Black). Fulfills English C requirement. Previously offered as English 297B (Fall 2017).

 


EN 398 Life in Times of Extinction
Four credit hours. Walker

We are living through an event known as the Sixth Extinction. Human impacts on the environment are causing the largest extinction in the last 65 million years. At the same time, humans are discovering and celebrating life in all its biodiversity. Photographs, films, ethological narratives, and biological databases attesting to human interest in newly discovered, and newly endangered, species proliferate. To address this incongruity, this humanities lab will explore a recent strain of scholarship in the environmental humanities that asks how extinction comes to matter to us culturally, ethically, and evolutionarily. The Presence of the Past humanities lab.

 


ES 118 Environment and Society
Four credit hours. Becknell, Walker, Nyhus

An interdisciplinary study of human relationships with and impacts on the environment. Examination of important local, national, and global environmental issues by exploring causes and methods for investigating these pressing problems, as well as possible solutions, from scientific and public-policy perspectives. Students explore important literature and ideas in the field to complement the lectures; conduct an original, semester-long, group research project; and complete several writing assignments.

 


GM 298 Nature Philosophy’s Roots: The Legacy of German Thought in the Environmental Humanities
Four credit hours. Bradley

In this environmental humanities course, we will consider the roots of contemporary ecological thought in German philosophy and culture. Beginning with the clash of Enlightenment and Romanticism around 1800, we will trace the subterranean legacy of some wild ideas about the relationship between humans and the natural world. Reading philosophical texts alongside literary works, we will consider the echoes of this thought into the present. In conversation with Maine-based organizations and contemporary philosophers, we will discuss phenomenological (Goethean) science and theories of sym-poeisis and even do some experiments of our own.

 


PL 243 Environmental Ethics
Four credit hours. Peterson

Beginning in the 1970s some philosophers began to seriously consider the ethical aspects of human relationships to the nonhuman natural world. Aims to familiarize students with the variety of philosophical ethics that has been developed to address the environmental crisis and its many dimensions. Students will accomplish this not only by reflecting theoretically on topics such as the value of nonhuman nature, anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, environmental justice, animal liberation, food issues, and sustainability, but also through civic engagement with local community partners.

 


ST 235 Digital Projects in Environmental History
Four credit hours. Fleming

A project-based Environmental Humanities seminar introducing best digital practices in environmental history. Sessions will include readings, discussions, visiting experts, archival visits, and consultations with advanced practitioners. Students will undertake a major digital research projects in small groups and will communicate their results in a public forum.

 


Affiliated Courses

 

ES 364 Climate Change, Justice, and Health
Four credit hours. Carlson

Examines the impacts of changing climate dynamics on human livelihoods, rights, health, and well-being. Through interdisciplinary readings, class discussions, research projects, and innovative communications, students will engage deeply with data from the natural and social sciences about human impacts, adaptations, and vulnerabilities, as well as explore climate justice activism. Key learning goals include improved information literacy and written and oral communication skills and increased understanding of the ways climate change is impacting the world in which we live. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 118.

 


AY 365 Space, Place and Belonging
Four credit hours. Tate

Examines the origins of human claims to belonging in particular places and landscapes. We consider embodied space, as well as how place produces and is produced by gender, race, and other social identities. Our analysis spans spatial scales, with a particular focus on the Americas. We examine the social processes of community formation, enabling connection even as they generate exclusions and boundaries; the infrastructures of place and community, their material deployment and how they enable particular forms of belonging; and how mobility in the contemporary moment contributes to the emergence of new identities as well vulnerabilities.

 


ES/ST 215 Weather, Climate and Society
Four credit hours. Fleming

A scientific introduction to the Earth’s atmosphere and historical and social issues related to weather and climate. Topics include the atmosphere’s composition, structure, and dynamics; air pollution; ozone depletion; natural disasters; and climate change. Includes lectures, an exam, quizzes, short essays, and a group project to be presented in a final poster session.