Last modified: 05 Oct 2023 08:46
Through the effects of technological progress, industrialisation, deforestation, mining, our dependence on fossil fuels and plastics, and the testing of nuclear weapons, humans have become geological agents – radically transforming the Earth System in ways that will leave a trace for millions of years to come. This realisation has come to be known as the ‘Anthropocene’ – the time of humans. The implications – materially, emotionally and intellectually – are vast and complex. How do writers and artists respond to this complexity? What role can literature, film and visual art play in our understanding of it? This course addresses these and other questions. By studying select works of literature, film and visual art from the last sixty years alongside critical, theoretical and scientific writing on the Anthropocene, can we identify those images that might be thought adequate to our predicament?
|Session||Second Sub Session||Credit Points||30 credits (15 ECTS credits)|
One or more of these courses have a limited number of places. Priority access will be given to students for whom this course is compulsory. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more details on this process.
For Paul Crutzen, the atmospheric chemist who brought the term into the public imaginary, the ‘Anthropocene’ names the current period in the Earth’s history, during which ‘humans and our societies have become a global geophysical force’. The implications of this recognition are vast and complex. They include the blurring of distinctions between culture and nature, between the time of humans and the vertigo inducing concept of deep time – geological time both past and future. The Anthropocene forces us to rethink agency, no longer the preserve of human ‘subjects’, agency, it can now be convincingly argued, extends to all lifeforms and beyond, to the products of human innovation: the plastics, chemicals, radioactive nuclides that act, in one way or another, in unintended and unexpected ways. How do writers and artists respond to this complexity? What role does literature, film and visual art play in our understanding of it? Timothy Clark has suggested that the disruption of Anthropocenic effects could mark a limit in art and literature; the edge of human imagination. At the same time, Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin argue that art is of crucial importance in enabling us to ‘feel with and think through the Anthropocene’. By engaging with contemporary research and thinking on the Anthropocene from both science and the humanities, and by studying select works of literature, film and visual art from the last sixty years, this course will consider these and other questions, seeking out images that might be thought adequate to our predicament. Writers, filmmakers and artists studied may include: Kathleen Jamie, Robert Macfarlane, China Mieville, Cormac McCarthy, Ilana Halperin, Olafur Eliasson, Dalziel and Scullion, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Baichwal and Agnes Varda among others.
Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.
|Assessment Weeks||Feedback Weeks||36|
|Assessment Weeks||35||Feedback Weeks||38|
|Assessment Weeks||Feedback Weeks||36|
|Assessment Weeks||31||Feedback Weeks||32|
There are no assessments for this course.
|Assessment Weeks||Feedback Weeks|
|Knowledge Level||Thinking Skill||Outcome|
|Factual||Analyse||Students will develop knowledge of the concept and theory of the Anthropocene, drawn from research in both science and the humanities.|
|Reflection||Apply||Students will participate in reflective discussion and lead seminar discussion.|
|Conceptual||Evaluate||Students will develop knowledge of the role of literature, art and film in negotiating our understanding of the Anthropocene and its implications.|
|Conceptual||Understand||Students will use appropriate methodologies and synthesise ideas drawn from a variety of sources.|
|Conceptual||Analyse||Students will critically interpret the work of significant writers, artists and filmmakers of the last sixty years.|
|Reflection||Create||Students will be able to produce either a slide-based presentation or video essay.|