Languages and Ecologies
Languages and Ecologies 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
In the era of the climate emergency and sixth mass extinction, awareness of environmental issues across a range of cultures is important for developing a critical understanding of ideological constructions of ‘nature’; their material impacts on bodies and territories; and how they have been exposed and contested in struggles towards environmental justice and sustainability. This module introduces students to the field of Environmental Humanities through a transnational and interdisciplinary approach. It will focus on the French-, Hispanic-, Italian- and German-speaking contexts (English translations of all texts will be provided), and on the intersections of environmental, political, social and cultural issues. Through this module, students will develop a critical understanding of key natural-cultural topics in different geopolitical and historical contexts, entwinements of anthropocentric, gendered, colonial and capitalist ideologies, and how these have been addressed and challenged by artists and activists.
The module will begin with an introduction to key concepts, frameworks and debates in the Environmental Humanities, such as natureculture, transcorporeality, more than human, hyper-separation, situated knowledges, the Anthropocene and its counter-formulations (such as the Capitalocene or the Plantationocene), postcolonial ecocriticism and ecofeminism. It will then move on to explore environmental histories and contemporary issues in different linguistic and cultural contexts, which will be discussed through a range of case studies across different media (such as film, literature, graphic narrative, performance). Students will have the opportunity to focus on the language specialism of their choice through a range of assessment options.
Topics will include: capitalist biopolitics of industrial farming and slaughter in contemporary France; toxic legacies of French and Belgian colonialism in the Francophone sphere (nuclear imperialism in French Polynesia and extractivism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo); narratives of Spanish rural depopulation; Environmental Crime: Genocide and reparations in German colonial Namibia (Forensic Architecture); How to explain art to a dead hare? Art and eco-protest in Germany; environment and Italian culture and literature.
-threshold -D- - D+: In order to merit the award of credit, students should demonstrate a solid comprehension of the medium of bande dessinée and of concepts in adaptation studies. They should also demonstrate an awareness of relevant critical thinking in bande dessinée and adaptation studies.
-good -C- - B+: Students attaining the higher grades in this course will have shown not only comprehension of the concepts and case studies studied in their own right, but will also demonstrate a clear ability to contextualise them, grasping the historical context of each case study. They will show an ability to explore and re-evaluate critical judgements in the light of their own reading.
-excellent -A- - A*: Students attaining the highest grades in this course will have thoroughly immersed themselves in primary and secondary reading, with which they will engage at a mature and incisive level. They will produce insightful, nuanced analysis. They will have demonstrated a very high level of engagement with the conceptual as well as factual aspects of the material studied.
- Analyse cultural representations of environmental issues in specific texts
- Apply key concepts in environmental humanities in the analysis of environmental issues in the context of the students' language of specialism
- Assess the relationship between environmental, political and social issues across different cultures
- Identify ways in which environmental works relate to their broader cultural, social and geopolitical context
One 15-minute presentation that provides an introduction to an ecological-related issue as historically and culturally situated in the areas/geographies of the student's language specialism.
Essay 2500 words on a question relating to one of the case studies, or a comparative question.