1.0 Course Description, Objectives, & Texts

1.1 Course Description

Lit 290 | Eng 290 | CulAnth 190 | Environ 290

What are environmental actions? What are environmental protests? How do we communicate protest? How can we leverage the environmental humanities alongside environmental protests to help make change in the world? How can the Humanities, most particularly the literary and visual arts, help us understand, practice, and promote environmental acts and activism? How can the stories we tell about humans and the environment be used to cultivate more sustainable classrooms, communities, and cultures? In the face of EPA cuts, environmental justice crises, and the Anthropocenic deterioration of the planet, how can the humanities provide hope? And how can that hope lead us to more sustainable futures?

In order to answer these questions we will read environmental novels and short stories like Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, Linda Hogan’s Power,  and Nnedi Okorafor’s “Spider the Artist.” We will look at activist art, listen to radical rap songs, watch environmental films and documentaries, and investigate the visual and spoken language(s) of recent environmental protests. We will ask questions about race, gender, sexuality, and class in so far as they affect and are affected by environmental issues. We will explore the theoretical methods of the literary and environmental humanities and will put our lea(r)nings into practice by collaborating with local partners, such as the Duke Farm, the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm, Sustainable Duke, Healthy Duke, Triangle Ecycling, and the Durham Scrap Exchange, to act environmentally by creating public—and perhaps digital—environmental humanities projects.

Class Attributes: (EI) Ethical Inquiry, (ALP) Arts, Literature & Performance, (CZ) Civilizations, (STS) Science, Technology, and Society

1.2 Required & Optional Course Texts

Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Helon Habila, Oil on Water
Linda Hogan, Power
Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
Nora Gallagher and Lisa Myers, Tools for Grassroots Activists (optional)
The Mission Collective, The Ten Minute Activist (optional)

Other texts will be made available online and/or on our password-protected Sakai page

1.3 Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Apply techniques of environmental humanities inquiry and literary analysis to interrogate and create contemporary environmental actions and activisms
  • Think critically about environmental actions and activisms
  • Read art, film, and literature for the stories they tell about our environmental situation
  • Interrogate pathways for integrating theories and methods from the environmental sciences and sustainability studies into humanistic inquiry
  • Demonstrate an understanding of environmental writing and culturally-situated environmental concerns
  • Critically consume and evaluate public environmental discourse and academic ecocritical prose
  • Engage global environmental social media and popular rhetoric, being sensitive to how culturally-specific local and global contexts shape different ways of acknowledging, approaching, and understanding environmental issues
  • Produce non-traditional (re)mediated forms of cultural, literary, and artistic (eco)criticism

2.0 Course Assignments & Expectations

2.1 Course Assignments

1. Weekly Blog, due on Monday by 11:59pm (exceptions will be noted on the schedule)

2. Protest Group work

3. Mapping Project

4. Final Project

Please see the Assignments page for more details. Students are encouraged to make use of the Duke University Writing Studio and Duke’s MPS and Computer Labs. You can find details and schedule an appointment at the Writing Studio at http://uwp.duke.edu/wstudio/resources/index.html. You can find hours and locations of the labs here: http://oit.duke.edu/comp-print/labs/index.php. More details on the requirements and resources for each writing assignment will be distributed in class and posted on our course website.

2.2 Grading

The grading breakdown is as follows:

Course Blogging: 15%

Protest Group Contribution: 15%

Map: 15%

Final Project: 30%

The remaining 25% of your grade will be derived from class preparation, in-class participation and discussion, weekly responses, and other assignments. Assignment specifics and expectations will be detailed in the Assignments section of our website and our syllabus. If you have questions about how an assignment will be assessed, it is your responsibility to contact me with questions. I am happy to clarify assignment requirements at any time.

2.3 Attendance

Class discussion and collaboration are essential parts of this seminar. It is important that you come to each class having already read or watched the required materials and having already tried the assigned tools/games/e-works. You should be prepared to discuss these in class and, on the assigned days, to show-and-tell us about your media experimentation.

Attendance in this class is mandatory. You should plan on attending every class. You are allowed two unexcused absences over the course of the semester. After that, your class participation will drop a letter grade for each additional unexcused absence. Upon the fifth unexcused absence, you will receive a failing grade for the course. Please try to submit the proper documentation, according to the T-Reqs website, required for excuse of absences: http://trinity.duke.edu/undergraduate/academic-policies/missing-work-classes.

2.4 Email

I will use Sakai to send class emails and the default address on file in the Sakai system is your @duke.edu account. Please check your Duke email account at least once a day in case there are any last-minute announcements or disruptions. If you do not regularly check your Duke account, I recommend you set up email forwarding so that Duke messages are fed into your preferred email account. It is your responsibility to contact me if you are NOT receiving class communication.

2.5 Laptops, iPads, & eReaders

I encourage the use of all of these devices as long as they are used for class purposes only. Non-class use of your device will result in grade deductions. We meet for just a short duration each class period and I expect you to respect our time together.

2.6 Honor Code & Peer Collaboration

Students are expected to abide by the terms of the student code of academic conduct, available in your undergraduate bulletin or online at http://www.integrity.duke.edu/ugrad/index.html. I urge you all to examine this material and consult me with any questions you may have about plagiarism or academic integrity before it becomes an issue.

Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism is not an acceptable excuse for plagiarism. Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated and will result in a failing grade for the course.

Over the course of the semester, you will be invited or required to collaborate with your classmates. Failure to do so with integrity, honesty, due responsibility (i.e. be sure to hold up your end of the task), and respect will result in grade deduction.