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GERMAN 298 A: Topics In Literature And Culture

Cultures of Extinction

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 2:50pm
Location: 
JHN 175
SLN: 
14984
Instructor:
Profile
Jason Groves

Syllabus Description:

German 298 / Comp Lit 396B / CHID 270E / ENVIR 495A

 

Cultures of Extinction

[Preliminary and Provisional Syllabus]

T/TH 1:30-2:50 CMU 230

 

Professor Jason Groves / jagroves@uw.edu / Office: Condon 704 / Office Hours: TBA / TA: TBA                      

                                                           

Introduction:

This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding one of the more wicked problems of the 21st century: mass species extinction, or The Sixth Extinction, as it is often known. Rather than approaching this event as a discrete biological phenomenon, this course looks at how current threats to bio-diversity are implicated in, and connected to, threats to cultural diversity, in particular language loss. We will seek to understand how discourses of extinction, beginning from its “discovery” in the 18th century, are related to fraught histories of colonialism and imperialism, whose ecological and cultural effects extend into the present and threaten to shape the future.

While the course seeks to grasp the scale of the Sixth Extinction, it will also critically reflect upon, and propose alternatives to, the dominant apocalyptic narratives in which extinction is framed in the popular imagination. Course readings and critical texts drawn from across the humanities and social sciences will explore and critique various framings of “the end” in literature, art, music, and film.

This course is open to majors across the university. English is the language of instruction and course readings. This course satisfies the diversity requirement as well as VPLA.

 

Readings: With the exception of Oryx and Crake (available at the UW bookstore), readings are collected in a Course Reader (will be available for purchase on or after Dec. 7 at Ram’s on the Ave.).

 

Team Learning

This class is taught in the team learning approach. Students will join groups of 5-7 members and work together as a cohesive learning team throughout the quarter. We will use a variety of interactive formats in class including lecture, class discussion, team debates, and presentation of team projects. Students are expected to attend each class period with all assignments completed by the beginning of class and ready to engage in and do online research about the topic of the day (bring your laptops). At the beginning of each unit, students will undergo a thorough readiness assurance process to insure that they are accountable as individuals.

 

Class time will be devoted to the discussion of the readings and to task-based assignments that apply the critical concepts from the readings and discussions to projects. At the end of the quarter, team members will evaluate each other’s contributions to the team in a peer assessment process. Over the course of the quarter each group will develop a portfolio with all their project assignments and will showcase their work at the end of each unit.

 

Unit 1: What is Missing?

Week 1 Introduction

Tuesday, Jan. 5: Introduction. Maya Lin, “What is Missing?”

Thursday Jan. 7: Sherman Alexie, “Evolution”

Michael Rothberg, “Theorizing Multi-directional Memory in a Transnational Age” (1-12)

Homework: Research monuments and museums around questions of endangerment

In class Project: Brainstorm potential extinction memorial (to lost species, lost civilization, lost culture)

 

Week 2 The Discovery of (the Sixth) Extinction

Tuesday, Jan. 12: Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Sixth Extinction” (New Yorker)

Alicia Escott, “Love Letter to a Brontomerus Mcintoshi”

Homework: Write a love letter to an extinct species of your choice

In class Project: Continue to develop memorial, now in context of 6th extinction

 

Thursday, Jan. 14: Darwin, “On Extinction,” from The Origin of Species

Gillian Beer, “Darwin and the Uses of Extinction”

Bratlinger, Dark Vanishings (1-12)

In class Project: Continue to develop memorial, cognizant of ideological uses of extinction

 

Week 3: Forms of Extinction

Tuesday, Jan. 19: Joseph Meeker The Comedy of Survival (excerpt)

 David Quammen, The Song of the Dodo (excerpt)

Last Chance to See, Kakapo episode

In class Project: Continue to develop memorial, cognizant of predominant narratives

 

Thursday, Jan. 21: Presentations of first project

 

Unit 2. Last People, Last Words: Fictions of Survival

Week 4: Postwar Apocalypse

Tuesday, Jan. 26: Arno Schmidt, Dark Mirrors (first half)

Baudrillard, The Illusion of an End (excerpt)

In Class Project #2: Develop a Robinsonade (a pre-enactment of a current or future disaster)

 

Thursday, Jan. 28: Arno Schmidt, Dark Mirrors (complete)

 In Class Project #2, cont.

 

Week 5 Cold War Apocalypse

Tuesday, Feb 2.: Julian Pölsler, The Wall

 In Class Project #2, cont.

 

Thursday, Feb 4.: Marlene Haushofer, The Wall (excerpt)

In Class Project #2, cont.

 

Week 6 Indigenous Apocalypse

Tuesday Feb.9:   Gerald Vizenor, “Voices” from Dead Voices: Natural Agonies In The New World

In Class Project #2, cont.

           

Thursday Feb. 11: The Bureau of Linguistic Reality materials

In class project: Salon for new words for the Anthropocene

 

Week 7 Afrofuturism

Tuesday Feb. 16:   Wanuri Kahiu, Pumzi

In Class Project #2, cont.

 

Thursday Feb 18: Presentation of Project #2

 

Unit 3: De-extinction and other Post-human futures           

 

Week 8 Postnatural History

Tuesday Feb. 23:   Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

“PostNatural Histories: Richard W. Pell in conversation with Emily Kutil & Etienne Turpin”

Homework: Find a news item that highlights a contemporary, real-world scientific or technological practice that relates to the novel.  

Begin Group Project #3: Museum Exhibition for the a Center for Postnatural History Museum

 

Thursday Feb. 25: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake, cont.

Group Project #3 cont.: Develop museum exhibition

       

Week 9 Postnatural History, cont.

Tuesday, Mar. 1: Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake cont.

Group Project #3 cont. : Develop museum exhibition

 

Thursday, Mar 3: Group Project #3 Presentation

 

Week 10: Zombies: After Extinction

Tuesday Mar. 8: Sarah Juliet Lauro and Karen Embry, “The Zombie Manifesto: The Nonhuman Condition in the

Era of Advanced Capitalism”

Homework: Compile all projects into paginated exhibition; design cover, TOC, etc. send to printer

 

Thursday Mar. 10: Presentation of final project, paginated exhibitions

Additional Details:

Introduces literary works and cultural artifacts from a variety of different traditions, cultures, and periods. Helps students to acquire basic tools for analyzing literature and culture.

This course takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding one of the more wicked problems of the 21st century: mass species extinction, or The Sixth Extinction, as it is often known. Rather than approaching this event as a discrete biological phenomenon, this course looks at how current threats to bio-diversity are implicated in, and connected to, threats to cultural diversity, in particular language loss. We will seek to understand how discourses of extinction, beginning from its “discovery” in the 18th century, are related to fraught histories of colonialism and imperialism, whose ecological and cultural effects extend into the present and threaten to shape the future.

While the course seeks to grasp the scale of the Sixth Extinction, it will also critically reflect upon, and propose alternatives to, the dominant apocalyptic narratives in which extinction is framed in the popular imagination. Course readings and critical texts drawn from across the humanities and social sciences will explore and critique various framings of “the end” in literature, art, music, and film.

This course is open to majors across the university. English is the language of instruction and course readings. This course satisfies the diversity requirement as well as VPLA.

Catalog Description: 
Introduces literary works and cultural artifacts from a variety of different traditions, cultures, and periods. Helps students to acquire basic tools for analyzing literature and culture.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Credits: 
5
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:15pm
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