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Apocalypse and the Anthropocene

ENGL 268.301
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

In this class we will explore the narrative mode of the apocalypse in the context of the geologic designation of the Anthropocene. The name for the geological age in which human activity dominates.  We will analyze a diversity of cultural forms to think about questions, reconceptions, and social issues relevant to that ephocal concept. Specifically, we will study the ways American literature, film, blogs, and video games attempt to understand the human and non-human relationships in the Anthropocene through stories of apocalypse. We will look to the ways American apocalypse narratives can represent and contest the exploitative, extractive, and unequal power relations that the “era of the human” includes, paying special attention to American notions of nature and stewardship as they relate to geologic time and the legacies of genocide, slavery, and capitalism. Our class will investigate the ways works of art attempt to render these complex and perhaps overwhelming concepts comprehensible so that we may envision and enact just futures.