What, when, and who is the Anthropocene? Why do the answers to these questions matter? We are living in a dramatic period in which we are re-thinking how Nature and culture relate to one another. The geological metaphors, entangled histories, situated narratives, ecology, science studies, art, literature, science fiction, and bioinformatics that combine in Anthropocene conceptions both link and divide the Global North and South. In this course, we consider the historical background of the Anthropocene concept, why the debates over when it started are so vitriolic, and what it means in contrast to the many other ’-ocenes’ proposed (Capitalocene, Chthulucene, Platationocene, Anglocene, etc...). Using books by Anna Tsing such as The Mushroom at the End of the World (2015) and Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet (2017) and Facing Gaia (2017) by Bruno Latour as guideposts, we explore ways of envisioning the natural world and its intersection with human culture. Indigenous oral history, poetry, documentary films, and visits to NYC art galleries and artists will be used to examine marginalized (indigenous, queer, and Global South) perspectives as well as the way that students frame their own perceptions of critical resources such as water and energy and their commodification, the crises faced through fossil fuel consumption and reliance upon plastics.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)