Countertextual Ecologies: Eco-Poetics

Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 quarters

Taught by

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.

Program Details

Fields of Study

aesthetics ecology environmental studies geography literature music philosophy political economy sustainability studies writing

Preparatory For

aesthetics, ecology, environmental studies, geography, literature, music, philosophy, political economy, sustainability studies, and writing



Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

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

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning


$100 per quarter for entrance fees and overnight field trips.