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ENGLISH 224B: Nature, Race, and Indigeneity in the U.S. Imagination (AMSTUD 224)

Nature is one of the weirdest words in the English language¿it can refer to human trait (it is in her nature), a nonhuman environment (we walked in nature, a divine power (mother nature), or a biological process (¿nature calls¿). Despite¿and indeed, because of¿these ambiguities, nature has played pivotal roles in the territory that has come to be known as the United States. In various guises, nature has inspired pilgrims, pioneers, and tourists. At the same time, nature has staged struggles between settlers and Natives, whites and racialized peoples, upper classes and working classes. As both a cultural construct and a material reality, therefore, nature has brought us together and torn us apart. In this seminar, we will learn how Natives, Latinxs, Blacks, whites, and other ethno-racial groups have depicted and dwelled in the U.S. By engaging with a variety of media¿from literature and visual art to law and public policy¿we will recover conflicting ideas of nature. And by reading in the environmental humanities¿including history, anthropology, and literary criticism¿we will discover how these ideas have impacted human and more-than-human worlds. While our inquiries will take us from prehistory to the present, they will converge on the future; now that we are destroying our ecosystems, extinguishing our fellow species, and transforming our atmosphere, we will ask, is there still such a thing as nature?
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5
Instructors: Nugent, C. (PI)
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