Wednesday, September 2, 2015

“Climate Trauma: New Environmentalisms” - A cli-fi class at STONY BROOK

CST 609.S03/EGL 608.S02/WST 610.S01

Advanced Topics in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

“Climate Trauma: New Environmentalisms”

Professor Elizabeth Ann Kaplan at STONY BROOK

Against the background of the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most sobering report yet issued by the scientific panel, this course examines the impact of realities of global warming on cultural discourses, individual and public consciousness, and media representations. Narratives of a destroyed planet, inhospitable to life in all forms, emerge at the intersection of scientific predictions about global warming (finally seeping into public media), and corporate businesses, determined to resist costly changes to their practices.

We will explore a new psychological condition, what I call “Pretraumatic Stress Disorder” (in contrast to the familiar Post-Traumatic Stress illness), and then study how this disorder is represented in a sub-set of the cli-fi genre, the pretraumatic climate disaster film.

Through close-readings of these texts, we will see how viewers become “virtual future humans,” as they identify with terrifying future selves they should hope to avoid. We will see how such fantasies, rather than inoculating viewers from the catastrophe to come, function as a kind of wake-up-call, what I call “memory for the future.”

The course explores the masculinist and racialized aspects of the cli-fi genre, showing the cultural work the films perform and implications of films rarely presenting climate catastrophe from the vantage point of women or minority peoples.

Against the background of first-wave eco-criticism, we will explore new, second-wave environmental humanities texts, such as those by Timothy Morton, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rob Nixon, Ursula Heise, Bruno Latour.

Cli-fi films include: Soylent [Soy + Lentils, get it?]Green, The Happening, 28 Days, Take Shelter, The Road, Blindness, Interstellar, Snowpiercer. Documentaries include Surviving Progress, Into Eternity, Manufactured Landscapes, Fukushima: Memories of a Lost Landscape or 311, Force of Nature, and more.

Students will develop their own research projects in Environmental Humanities as the course proceeds and according to their prior knowledge of this relatively new field. ]

Thursdays 1:00-3:50pm Humanities 2052

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