Countertextual Ecologies: Eco-Poetics

Fall 2017
Winter 2018
Credits per quarter

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The relationship between nature and history is complex, so much so that the space between nature and the human, being and language, may not even be measurable. Yet the environmental imperatives of our moment—including the need to cultivate a tolerance if not an appreciation for complexity itself—are the decisive ones. In this program, we will think through questions of environmental consciousness and its discontents from the points of view of political ecology, gastropoetics, eco-poetics, and eco-music. How does immersion in complex music prepare us to recognize the complexities of an ecosystem? Does the deliciousness of a fine organic, single origin chocolate correspond to the tropical ecosystem of the country of origin, the evolutionary development of mammalian taste receptors, or the cultivated aesthetic of the chocolatier? Is the poem mimetic of nature, or a function of it? How could such a seemingly noble enterprise as 'environmentalism' or 'protecting nature' be problematic? How have powerful environmental imaginaries and narratives served to dangerously simplify how environmental problems and their solutions are conceptualized? Ours will be a multifaculty, multidisciplinary approach to interdisciplinary community-based learning. While activities will include shared lectures and readings, half of program work will take place in faculty-specific tracks.

Eco-poetics with Leonard Schwartz will explore creative and critical approaches to language, with a view to reframing our understanding of the relationship between nature and history. This program within the Counter-Textual cluster is recommended for students seeking to explore experimental possibilities in writing - poetic, theoretical, and the spaces in between. Readings will include the Chilean poet Raul Zurita, Camille Dungy's anthology Black Nature, Timothy Morton's Dark Ecology , Jed Rasula's This Compost: Ecological Imperatives in American Poetry and the (Eco)(Language)(Reader), edited by Brenda Iijima.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: aesthetics, ecology, environmental studies, geography, literature, music, philosophy, political economy, sustainability studies, and writing

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.

$100 in fall for entrance fees and overnight field trips.


Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Advertised schedule:

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 9:30am (Com 110)

2018-02-16Winter fee cancelled.