Seminar in 20th-Century American Literature: Eco-Criticism & the American Novel

English 8320
Eco-Criticism & the American Novel
Karen Piper
Tate 310

This course will look at the intersections between eco-criticism and contemporary literature, in particular at the impact of climate change on the contemporary novel.  How has climate change impacted the direction of contemporary fiction in the U.S.?  How might climate change impact our understanding of plot, teleology, and “progress”?  How can writing function as a coping mechanism and way to reimagine the future in the face of climate change? These are the questions we will address in this class, looking at issues such as migration, boundaries, identity, and trauma. If the possibility of restoration of to a “pristine” wilderness is no longer possible, and perhaps never was, how does this change the trajectory of environmentalism in U.S.?  Books will include Amitav Ghosh’s “The Great Derangement,” Donna Haraway’s “Staying with the Trouble,” and Nathaniel Rich’s “Odds Against Tomorrow.”  Much of the fiction we read will be speculative fiction.