This seminar is structured upon the premise that we are already in the grip of the Anthropocene, a turbulent era of human caused, planetary changes in which we are confronted with the transformation of the very conditions of possibility for both organic and social life. Our goal for this seminar will be to intensify our perceptions of what the Anthropocene will mean for the 21st century on a number of levels, including the ecological, the cultural and the political. In order to broach these questions, we will undertake a conceptual survey of global and local strategies of engagement with the Anthropocene, as conditioned by technocultural and geopolitical globalization. Along the way, we will consider altermondialisation and transmodernity discourses that have developed alongside the Anthropocene, just as we will examine the antiglobalization and antimodern discourses that have reacted against it. Drawing upon thinkers engaged with the rapid multiplication of global “centers” and internal/external “peripheries” that are confronted by climate change unevenly, this seminar will function as a collective investigation into the transnational and transitional nature of the Anthropocene, including modes of ecological, technocultural and geopolitical exchange in our emergent encounters with the consequences of the new epoch.
The seminar will be composed of four 2.5 hour sessions, each of which will be split between a 10 minute introduction to the session, a 20 minute guest lecture, 30 minutes of student-facilitated group discussion, a brief break and 1.25 hours of instructor-facilitated Oxford/Williams-style tutorial presentations on the readings. All students will write four mini-essays of 600-1000 words each addressing a current event or recent cultural object in light of the readings, due at the end of each week. These will be posted to the Google Classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussions and tutorials. Students in the certificate program will receive extensive feedback and assistance in expanding the paper into a publishable document.