Literature and Nature
Anne Mulhall, Margret Grebowicz
The natural environment fulfills a variety of roles in literature. It can at once be a site of inspiration, a backdrop to anxiety, a portal to fantasy or a mirror to the self. Likewise, literature can help us to gain a better understanding of nature, such as when science fiction explores environmental crises and solutions to them, or tragedy tries to get at the heart of what it means to be human, or an animal or something in between.
This intensive co-taught course is structured around four themes, each one designed to promote in-depth exploration of the complex interactive relationship between literature and nature. Across eight weeks we will be reading works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Goethe, Defoe, Kafka, and Thoreau, as well as a selection of more contemporary works, including science fiction. At the same time, we will be putting these literary examples into contact with philosophical materials that problematize our relationship to the natural world, such as critical climate change studies, feminist theories, indigenous theories, geo-aesthetics and critical animal studies.