Ecopoetics is the study of literature that is concerned with ecology and nature. However, beyond just literature about nature, this course will examine how ecology and nature have become complicated in the 21st century, the age of the Anthropocene, the age of the climate crisis and the 6th mass extinction (don’t worry, we will define these and other key terms).
In the 21st century, humans are now confronted with a growing awareness of their destructive impact on the earth, its environments, and its human and non-human inhabitants. In this class we will examine how ecology and nature have become complicated in the 21st century, alongside many other questions that appear when we start to unravel that complication:
What do we even mean by nature? How do we think about interconnection? Interconnection between whom and what? How are authors writing about the climate crisis, ecological justice, and non-human beings? How can the study of ecopoetics actually help us think about the complicated, interconnected challenges of the twenty-first century at large?
We’ll look at poems written from the perspective of non-humans; we’ll consider those who have come before us and those who’ll come after; we’ll look at and think about the (supply) chain of associations between you and a cup of coffee; write along the path of NYC’s watershed and waterways from source to tap; and invent new words to describe the challenges of this new century.
Ultimately, in this class, we will discuss the profound questions raised by the study of ecopoetics, questions of what it means to be human, to live in an organized society, on a finite earth, now, and 100 years from now.
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Balun, Robert, "21st Century Ecopoetics (Selected Topics in Literature and Science)" (2020). CUNY Academic Works.