about this course

In this literature course, whose title is indebted to Timothy Morton, we will position ourselves at the intersection of fiction & fact and science & literature as we examine ecological visions of the future depicted in a range of twentieth and twenty-first century texts. In doing so we will evaluate the ways narratives of ecological disaster and apocalypse are deployed in literary as well as broader cultural contexts. How do apocalypse, the technosublime, and ecological justice narratives also offer optimistic perspectives? In addition to reading fiction, ecocritical theory, and science writing, we will study the ways in which metaphor and metonymy are imagined in materialist terms in postmodern poetry. How do we redefine gender, the human, the machine, and even nature itself with technology and science? As Margaret Atwood reminds us, speculative fiction, unlike science fiction, deals with things that have already been invented. Our readings will therefore build toward an account of “dark ecology” as a way of describing a convergence of different literary genres and modes around an idea that is murky, ill-defined, and darkly visible, but which describes the coming time of the transhuman. Readings will include fiction, poetry, some science writing, and eco-theory by Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Muriel Rukeyser, Ursula Le Guin, Rachel Carson, Bill McKibben, Timothy Morton, Michael Marder, Jane Bennett, and Donna Haraway.