25. Sep – 27. September 2019
PhD Course: Ecocritical Theory: Literature, Culture and Environment
University of Agder, Norway
Ecocritical Theory: Literature, Culture and Environment
Ecocriticism, that is, research focusing on the relation between literature, culture and the environment, is a rapidly growing field both internationally and within Norway. As an environmental humanities discipline, ecocritical research contributes to interdisciplinary environmental research from the perspective of literary and cultural studies.
Ecocriticism is, however, not based on a theory of its own, but rather draws upon theoretical approaches from various directions. This course will introduce participants to a variety of theories that relate nature and the environment to literature and culture and ask how these theories can be utilized for ecocritical research.
The lectures included in the course will provide insights into some of the earliest theoretical developments that current ecocriticism draws upon, through exploring the thinking of predecessors such as Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno and the critical theory of the Frankfurt school, and how these inspired ecological aesthetics, environmental ethics, constructivist ecocriticism, and recent approaches such as cultural ecology. Another focus will be theories of risk and the risk society, as these have been developed by sociologists such as Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens, and how they can be applied in the analysis of narratives of environmental risk and the Anthropocene. A third approach addressed in the course will be the combination of ecocriticism and postcolonial studies and the inspiration it draws from, among other things, concepts of environmental justice and ecofeminism. The current “material turn” within cultural studies will be addressed through a lecture on the relatively new (but expanding) sub-field of material ecocriticism. Finally, one of the most recent developments within ecocriticism will be discussed, namely the combination of cognitive narratology with empirical approaches in the study of environmental narrative.
The thematic course lectures will be held by internationally established researchers in ecocriticism and related fields. The course will generally have a strong focus on the combination of ecocritical theory and practice, and thus on the applicability of the theoretical approaches presented and discussed to the practical analysis of literary and filmic texts and genres. It will also provide a platform for participants to discuss and receive feedback on the theoretical aspects of their own projects.
- Reinhard Hennig (course leader) is associate professor of Nordic literature at UiA
- Alexa Weik von Mossner is associate professor of American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria.
- Martin Gregersen is lecturer at the Department of Culture and Global Studies at the University of Aalborg, Denmark.
- Sylvia Mayer is professor of American Studies at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.
- Timo Müller is professor of American Studies at the University of Konstanz, Germany.
- Tonje Vold is associate professor of comparative literature at OsloMet, Norway.
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