LTEN 159 - CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN LITERATURE
US Environmental Cultures
Instructor: Ryan Heryford

In this course, we will observe a variety of texts dealing with the representation of ecological landscapes and environments in late-20th and 21st century American culture. Moving away from the bioregionalism of early American naturalism, we will engage with writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and musicians like Rachel Carson, Leslie Marmon Silko, Cherrie Moraga, and Kelly Reichardt, considering their works in transnational dialogue with artists and activists concerned with global ecological crises. We will additionally discuss the current genre of the post-humanities, a speculative discipline that deals in utopian and apocalyptic depictions of the American wilderness. As our current generation witnesses both the destruction and dissolution of the ecological landscape, as well as a renewed emphasis on environmental concern in the popular political narrative, we find an ever increasing necessity for informed understandings of ‘nature’ as it plays out across different sectors of our communities. By the end of this course, students will be familiar with the role of American literature in these popular debates, and the place of eco- criticism as a theoretical discipline in contemporary cultural studies scholarship.