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JRS Environmental Crisis and Contemporary Fiction

ENGL 200.306
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Junior Research Seminar Requirement of the Standard Major

This course will cover contemporary American novels (post-2001) that speak to current environmental crises, such as climate change and widespread toxicity. We'll explore how environments emerge as narrative subjects, and how novels can become channels for ecological thought. Focusing mostly on realist fiction, we'll give sustanined attention to the relation between environmental experience and literary representation of environments. Primary texts will address hurricanes, plastic waste, industrial dumping, weapons testing, greenhouse gas emissions, the human cost of environmental mismanagement, and other urgent issues. Alongside our primary texts, we'll read theoretical writing on ecology by scholars in the humanities. Among our central questions: how is scientific knowledge of today’s environmental crises reshaping the study of literature, and what can literary critics contribute to the climate conversation?

Our syllabus will include: Don DeLillo, Colson Whitehead, Ruth Ozeki, Ben Lerner, A.S. Byatt, Jesmyn Ward, Cormac McCarthy, and David Foster Wallace.

The Junior Research Seminar introduces students to a range of research methods within the discipline of literary studies. Short research and writing exercises throughout the semester will enable a final scholarly essay of 15 pages. Major requirements: Fulfills Sector 6 and JRS