2017-2018 Academic Year
ENGL 553: Anthropocene: Nomenclatures, Histories, Criticism.
Instructor: Dr. Vin Nardizzi
We live in an epoch that scientists have named the Anthropocene. But what, exactly, is that? This seems a question with an easy, if devastating, answer: the era of “man-made” (and irreversible) geologic change. In an effort to elaborate the complexities embedded in this answer, this seminar will introduce students to the multidisciplinary literatures that have recently and increasingly constellated around this designation. We shall examine scientific accounts that aim to establish (and ratify) the origin of the Anthropocene and to predict its global effects on climate and sea levels. We shall also read scholarship that critiques the underlying assumptions about the Anthropocene. We shall explore alternate nomenclatures for it (Anthrobscene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene) as well as the different narratives that these designations condense. And, finally, we shall take a semester-long view of the forms and formats that criticism has taken in response to the Anthropocene to measure, insofar as we can, whether this epoch is also changing the way scholars are conducting and communicating research.