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GERMAN 592 A: Cultural Studies

The Anthropocene: The Future of the Human/ities

Meeting Time: 
W 1:30pm - 4:20pm
Location: 
SMI 109
SLN: 
15006
Instructor:
Profile
Jason Groves

Syllabus Description:

Updated: 1/20/16

The Anthropocene: The Future of the Human/ities

GERM 592a / ENGL 546c

Wednesday 1:30-4:20

SMI 109

 

Jason Groves

jagroves@uw.edu

704 Condon

Office Hours: Tuesday 4-5 and by appt.

 

This graduate seminar proposes to introduce students to prominent critical idioms of the humanities in the 21st century, particularly as they pertain to the Anthropocene hypothesis. While the entanglement of industrial activity and planetary systems has been expressed within the geosciences in the informal designation of a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene—this term is also becoming an occasion to critically reexamine the place of the earth in the Humanities. Amidst the increasing recognition of the intervention of the anthropos into earth systems, this seminar draws on and extends the inroads that the geos has recently made into traditionally humanistic domains, including geophilosophy, geocriticism, geontology, geopoetics, and geopolitics. How is the legacy of 20th century critical thought and theory challenged by catastrophic climate change and ongoing ecocides? How can literature contend with new climate regimes?

 

Through readings in the German tradition and beyond, including Tieck, Kleist, Benjamin, Frisch, Haushofer, Wolf, and beyond, the seminar proposes to explore how writers in a geo-poetic tradition inform our current geologic self-understanding. Readings will be oriented around four principal environmental threats associated with the Anthropocene and corresponding aesthetic, political, and ethical questions: 1) terraforming 2) pollution and climate change and 3) extinction. Theoretical readings are drawn mostly from contemporary voices as they engage with 20th century paradigms, including Chakrabarty, Grosz, Povinelli, Yusoff, Parikka, Colebrook, and Buell. The language of instruction is English.  Primary readings will be available in both German and English.

 

Course Requirements: Course reading, weekly participation, contribution to course blog, final presentation (or possible substitution for article).

Required Books (ordered through UW Bookstore, all other readings will be uploaded on Canvas)

*Readers of German are encouraged to instead pick up the Frisch and Wolf in German editions, also available in the bookstore.

 

Max Frisch, Man in the Holocene (Dalkey, 2011): ISBN 978-1564784667

Jussi Parikka, The Anthrobscene (UOM, 2104) [ISBN: 9780816696079]

Christa Wolf, Accident: A Day’s News (UOC, 2001) [ISBN: 9780226905068]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Anthropocene: The Future of the Human/ities

 

Seminar Schedule

 

  1. Reading and Writing the Anthropocene

Week 1: Writing

Paul J Crutzen, “Geology of Mankind”

Dipesh Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses”

Timothy Clark, “The Anthropocene, Questions of Definition” from Ecocriticism on the Edge

 

Suggested:

Tobias Boes and Kate Marshall, “Writing the Anthropocene”

Gabriele Dürbeck, “Das Anthropozän in geistes- und kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive”

 

Week 2 (Jan. 13): anthropos kainos

Claire Colebrook, “Posthuman Humanities” from The Death of the Posthuman

Woods, “Scale Critique for the Anthropocene”

Jason Moore, “The Capitalocene, Part I”

 

Suggested:

Ursula Heise, “The Posthuman Turn”

Donna Haraway “Anthropocene, Capitolocene, Chthulucene” (https://vimeo.com/97663518)

 

Week 3 (Jan. 20): Reading

Walter Benjamin, “Kommentar zu Gedichten von Brecht” (“Commentary on the Poems of Brecht”) Jason

Timothy Clark, “Emergent Unreadability: Rereading a Lyric by Gary Snyder” Katie

 

Suggested:

Dimock, “Literature for the Planet”

  1. Terraforming

Week 4 (Jan. 27): Mine

Tieck, Der Runenberg (Rune Mountain)

Novalis, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, chapter 5 (Chase Presentation)

Jussi Parikka, The Anthrobscene (Douglas Presentation)

Screening: Roland Emmerich, 2012 5-7 Condon 429

Suggested:

Theodor Ziolkowski, “The Mine: Image of the Soul”

Heather Sullivan, “Organic and Inorganic Bodies in the Age of Goethe: An Ecocritical Reading of Ludwig Tieck’s Rune Mountain and the Earth Sciences.”

Doyle, “When the World Screamed”

Kathryn Yusoff, “Geological Life: prehistory, climate, futures in the Anthropocene”

 

Week 5 (Feb. 3): Eaarth

Kleist, Erdbeben in Chili (“Earthquake in Chile”) (Matthew presentation)

Adorno and Horkheimer, “Der Begriff der Aufklärung” (“The Concept of Enlightenment”)

Joanna Zylinska, “Ethics” from Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene (Svenja presentation)

 

Suggested:

Bill McKibben, Eaarth, excerpt

Nigel Clark, Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet (chapter 4)

Screening: Julian Pölsler, The Wall, 5-7 Condon 429

 

 

III. Pollution & Climate Change

Week 6 (Feb. 10): Oil & the Necropastoral

Werner Herzog, Lektionen in Finsternis (Lessons of Darkness)

Joyelle McSweeney, “Chapter 1" from Necropastoral (Patrick presentation)

Georg Trakl, "Grodek"

Heather Sullivan, “Nature and the Dark Pastoral in Goethe’s Werther” (Kate presentation)

 

Suggested:

Frederick Buell, “A Short History of Oil Cultures”

Amitav Ghosh, “Petrofiction: The Oil Encounter and the Novel”

Joyelle McSweeney, “Chapter 2" from Necropastoral

 

Week 7 (Feb. 17): Nuclear / Weather

Christa Wolf, Störfall: Nachrichten eines Tages (Accident: A Day’s News) (Vanessa presentation)

Rob Nixon, “Introduction” from Slow Violence (Slaven presentation)

Suggested:

Lawrence Buell, “Toxic Discourse”

Various poems from Störfall / Accident

Screening: Edgar Hagen, Die Reise zum sichersten Ort der Erde (Journey to the Safest Place on Earth), 5-7

 

  1. Extinction

Week 8 (Feb. 24): Survival: Robinsonades

Marlen Haushofer, Die Wand (The Wall) (Samantha presentation)

Edgar Hagen, Die Reise zum sichersten Ort der Erde (Anna presentation)

 

Suggested:

Scranton, “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene” (NYT article)

Julian Pölsler, The Wall

Screening: Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Unser täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread), 5-7

 

Week 9 (Mar. 2): Ideas: Species, Nature

Max Frisch, Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän (Man in the Holocene) (Aaron presentation)

Timothy Morton, "Introduction to Hyperobjects" (Elizabeth presentation)

Rogério presentation TBD

Screening: Jörg Forth, Letztes aus der DaDaeR (Latest from the DaDaeR) 5-7

 

Week 10 (Mar. 9): Final Presentations

(15minutes/presentation in groups of 3 = 45 Minutes + 15 Minute questions)

 

Additional Details:

This graduate seminar proposes to introduce students to prominent critical idioms of the humanities in the 21st century, particularly as they pertain to the Anthropocene hypothesis. While the entanglement of industrial activity and planetary systems has been expressed within the geosciences in the informal designation of a new geological epoch—the Anthropocene—this term is also becoming an occasion to critically reexamine the place of the earth in the Humanities. Amidst the increasing recognition of the intervention of the anthropos into earth systems, this seminar draws on and extends the inroads that the geos has recently made into traditionally humanistic domains, including geophilosophy, geocriticism, geontology, geopoetics, and geopolitics. How is the legacy of 20th century critical thought and theory challenged by catastrophic climate change and ongoing ecocides? How can literature contend with new climate regimes?

Through readings in the German tradition and beyond, including Kleist, Hoffman, Grass, Frisch, Wolf, and Sebald, the seminar proposes to explore how writers in a geo-poetic tradition inform our current geologic self-understanding. Readings will be oriented around four principal environmental threats associated with the Anthropocene and corresponding aesthetic, political, and ethical questions: 1) pollution  2) extinction 3) terraforming and 4) climate change. Theoretical readings are drawn mostly from contemporary voices as they engage with 20th century paradigms, including Chakrabarty, Grosz, Povinelli, Yusoff, Parikka, Rigby, Colebrook, and Zylinska. The language of instruction is English.  Primary readings will be available in both German and English.

 

Catalog Description: 
Seminar on rotating special topics dealing with periods, themes, or particular problems in German life and culture.
Credits: 
5
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:05pm
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