ENGL 1102: Back to the Future
The cumulative consequences of the Anthropocene—warming, carbon emission, species loss, deforestation, melting, ocean acidification, and the global waste crisis—make the future of life on earth difficult to imagine. Throughout most of human history, we have relied on models such as generational inheritance or market growth to imagine what lies ahead, but if the last few years are any indication, the rhetoric we use to project the future are increasingly insufficient. In response to this figural exigency, students in this class will draw on rhetorical forms and figures from the Sciences and Humanities to invent new figures, stories, and models that describe contemporary environmental degradation, potential responses to it, and the world to come. Students will begin by illustrating concepts of “the future” and “futurity” through contemporary media, and then expand their insights through theoretical and political texts to imagine a world free from the terminal effects of climate change. To expand on their initial research, and also uncover ways in which our present is partially determined by the future we imagined hundreds of years ago, students will investigate the history of the future as environmental rhetoric popularized in early literature such as Thomas More’s Utopia and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Using a multimedia approach to communication, which considers the interrelationship between Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, and Nonverbal modes, students will articulate their own ideas about the future through a poster analysis of contemporary visual media, a slideshare and explainer video project broadcast from ten years in the future, and a creative world building project in which they research a contemporary environmental crisis by inventing a new future.
ENGL: Shakespeare's Globe
In this course we will put The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Richard II, and Titus Andronicus into conversation with ecocriticism. Ecocriticism—the branch of literary theory broadly concerned with the relationship between literature and the environment—provides us with terms such as nature, ecology, anthropocentrism, recycling, and sustainability that we will use to describe the forms, themes, and plots of Shakespeare’s plays. Drawing on work by contemporary ecocritics, we will engage the course texts through some of the following questions: What is nature? How do Shakespeare’s plays alert audiences to the materiality and interconnectivity of human subjectivity? How do the storms, anatomy lessons, catalogues of plants and animals, and forests in the plays we read inform the contemporary climate crisis? To answer these questions and help you develop close reading and critical writing skills, you will create and administrate individual websites where you will publish multimedia blog posts, argument driven analysis essays, an “edition” of King Lear, and PechaKutcha presentations. Ultimately, this course aims to train you to analyze Shakespeare’s plays as ecocritics do so that we may together reimagine the relationship between humans and nature in both early modern drama and our own imperiled world.
THS/ENG 215: Animals on Stage
In this course we will engage early drama, and its performance history, through the figure of the animal. The Eagles that figure the fall of the house of Atreus in the Oresteia, the lamb disguised as Christ in The Second Shepherd’s Play, and the dog actor who played Crab in early modern productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona, are just a few examples of the indispensable animals we will investigate in this course on the history of drama from the 5th century BCE to the 17th century CE. In addition to works performed in classical festivals, medieval mystery cycles, and the playhouses of the English Renaissance and Restoration, we will also consider animal performers in less auspicious venues such as circuses, zoos, and baiting-pits. Our inquiry into animals on stages big and small will enable us to ask questions about political philosophy, environmental ethics, and the relative status of man. To answer these questions and help you develop close reading and critical writing skills, you will complete quizzes, create multimedia blog posts, produce a podcast, research and write essays, and design a final presentation. Readings to include The Oresteia, The Wasps, The Shepherds’ Play, The Jew of Malta, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Macbeth, The Witch of Edmonton, and The Country Wife.
ENGL 181: Turning of the Tide, Spring 2017
The Turning of the Tide is a survey of popular literary works on the ocean. Developed as part of the Emory Piedmont TATTO Fellowship on Sustainability, Teaching, and Curriculum, in this course students will read and write about oceans, ecology, and environmental justice to expand their critical composition and analytic skills; develop rhetorical knowledge and practices; and participate with audiences both local and global. Although events such as pollution, warming, overfishing, mineral extraction, and tourism threaten to destroy the well being of coastal communities and marine life forever, we look to these topics at a moment in which potential devastation can be forestalled. Drawing on key terms such as “Slow Violence” and “Trans-Corporeality,” we will read, watch, and listen to texts from multiple genres, time periods, and geographic regions that all share a rhetorical engagement with bodies of water. Course texts include, but are not limited to The Edge of the Sea, The Drowned World, and Treme. Over the course of the term students will write and administer their own websites on which they will publish required projects such as infographics; personal narratives; researched essays; and slideshare presentations; as well as a series of short multimedia blog posts. Just as life began in the oceans, I hope that together we can look to water as a resource for life to come.
ENGL 1101: After Nature, Fall 2017
For decades now activists and scientists have been warning the public that nature is on the brink of ruin: the Global Mean Sea Level has risen 4 to 8 inches above the 1993 recorded high; 2016 was the hottest year on record; biodiversity has fallen below “safe” levels; and the sixth mass extinction may well be underway. Given these factors and more, saving nature has never been more urgent than it is in our historical moment. Bur what if nature cannot be saved? What if nature deteriorates even as humans reach out to protect it? What if we are already living after nature? To answer the questions above, and meet the course goals, we will analyze and practice strategies for communicating ideas about nature, and life after nature, to a range of audiences across a variety of platforms. Using a WOVEN approach to communication that considers the interrelationship between Written, Oral, Visual, and Nonverbal modes, this course will give you practice in analyzing the rhetorical strategies for articulating your own ideas about nature and the modes through which it is transmitted. To investigate ways that ideas about nature from the past help to figure the present and future, we will analyze contemporary ecocritical theory, as well as The History of King Lear and The Walking Dead. Over the course of the semester, you will compose a series of multimedia blog posts, respond to reading quizzes, design a visual rendering, write a literary analysis essay, produce a collaborative podcast, and curate all major assignments into a final, multimedia portfolio.
ENGL 1101: Sustaining Ecologies, Summer 2018
Over the course of this class, we will visit and host guests from urban farms and farmer’s markets, as well as wildlife centers, green spaces, and the Beltline, so that students can identify and describe the relationship between the ecological and the social in their communities. Students will engage community partners and course texts through some of the following questions: how do individual actions effect larger ecosystems in which humans are enmeshed? How can humans avoid destroying ecology as we reach out to sustain it? How can we sustain the ecologies that sustain us without abandoning human community? This class Uses a WOVEN approach to communication that considers the interrelationship between Written, Oral, Visual, and Nonverbal modes to give students practice in analyzing the rhetorical strategies for articulating their own ideas about sustainability. To investigate the ways in which humans sustain ecology, we will analyze selections from Wendel Barry’s A Continuous Harmony, bell hook’s Belonging, John McPhee’s Uncommon Carriers, and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, as well as readings on the history and the trouble with sustainability by such authors as Jeremy Caradonna, Steve Mentz, Timothy Clark, and Tim Morton. Students can expect to compose an introductory video; design a poster that illustrates sustainability; film and edit a mini-documentary about Atlanta’s green and urban spaces; produce a collaborative cookbook that represents the ecologies of food in and around the Beltline; and curate all major assignments into a showcase portfolio. In the same way that our community partners sustain ecologies in Atlanta, in this class students will develop practices consistent with their roles as responsible members of local, national, and international communities.
ENGL 1101: Bad Collections, Fall 2018
In this course students will investigate ways that the causes and consequences of global Climate Change are simultaneously psychological and environmental. In their first unit poster projects students will illustrate sites of extreme accumulation such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Tire Graveyard in Kuwait, and the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada in order to grasp the scale of environmental devastation humans cause. Because the scale of the sites students illustrate in their first project is almost too huge to communicate, students will spend the second unit analyzing imagery from texts such as Vik Muniz’s Wasteland and Shakespeare’ Hamlet. In order to describe the effects of mass consumption and practice narrative techniques, students will compose analysis driven argumentative essays that connect the personal, psychological aspects of collecting with the extreme accumulation that threatens the continued existence of humans on earth. Finally, students will study environmental rhetoric in film and produce a first-person, video in which they narrative the objects they consume and accumulate. Through a collaboration with Serve Learn Sustain, students will contribute the final video projects they film on the waste that their own personal collections produce to the Climate Stories of Georgia Project. Ultimately, this course aims to help students develop practices consistent with their roles as responsible members of local, national, and international communities, while also being able to identify relationships among ecological, social, and economic systems.