The Anthropocene in British and Australian Fiction and Film

Course title: Anthropocene in British and Australian Fiction and Film
Instructor: Dr. Iva Polak, Assoc. Prof.
ECTS credit: 6
Language: English
Duration: Semester 4 or 6
Status: Elective
Enrolment requirements: Introduction to English Literature 1 i 2
Course description: We will discuss cultural implications of the Anthropocene, a new geological era in which humans have become a geological force on a planetary scale to be reckoned with. Starting with Timothy Morton’s claim that man is “the detective and the criminal” (Dark Ecology, 2016), we will consider a selection of British and Australian novels which fictionalise and project into the future a series of issues affecting the present climate and our planet: fossil fuel burning, global warming, decreased biological diversity, global population increase, climate refugees. The selected works use satire and irony, and since they are voiced from different cultural, ethnic and gender positions, they offer different recipes for avoiding/surviving the end of the world.
Objectives : Students will get to know the implication of the new geological era and how it has influenced cultural production from the UK and Australia.
Course requirements: The final grade is based on continuous assessment which includes regular attendance (max. 4 unattended classes), preparation for and participation in class, writing small assignments, timely submission of the final paper, and obligatory sitting for midterm and endterm exam. The paper is worth 35%, midterm and endterm exams are worth 50% and other elements of continuous assessment are worth 15% of the final grade. Students must meet all requirements of continuous assessment.
The exact date of the mid-term exam is defined in cooperation with the students. Topics for the  main written assignment (student paper) are selected in week 8.

Week by week schedule
WEEK 1

Introduction into the Anthropocene (anthropos vs homo, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, anthropocentrism, post/trans/humanism, hyperobject, ecological thought…)
WEEK 2
British fiction and film of the Anthropocene (ecology, climate, dystopia, genre hybridity) 
WEEK 3
J. G. Ballard. High Rise (1975)
WEEK 4
High Rise (2015), dir. Ben Wheatley
WEEK 5
The Age of Stupid (2009), dir. Franny Armstrong, documentary; An Inconvenient Truth (2006), dir. Davis Guggenheim, documentary
WEEK 6
Saci Lloyd. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (2015)
WEEK 7
Midterm exam; preparation for student paper
WEEK 8
Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods (2007).
WEEK 9
Australian fiction and film of the Anthropocene (ecology, climate, dystopia, genre hybridity) 
WEEK 10
This Changes Everything (2015) dir. Avi Levis, documentary
WEEK 11
Mireille Juchau. The World Without Us (2018)
WEEK 12
Alexis Wright: The Swan Book (2013)
WEEK 13
Alexis Wright: The Swan Book (2013) cont.
WEEK 14
Final discussion; endterm exam

Reading list:
Novels

J. G. Ballard. High Rise (1975)
Saci Lloyd. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (2015)
Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods (2007)
Mireille Juchau. The World Without Us (2015)
Alexis Wright: The Swan Book (2013)

Critical editions:
– Bhabha, Homi K. “Notes on Globalisation and Ambivalence”, Cultural Politics in a Global Age: Uncertainty, Solidarity and Innovation, David Held i Henrietta L. Moore (ed.), Oxford Oneworld, 2007: 36-47.
– Braidotti, Rosi and Maria Hlavajova (eds.) Posthuman Glossary, Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. (terminology)
– Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses”, Critical Inquiry 35, 2009: 197-222.
– Clark, Timothy. The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (Cambridge Introductions to Literature), 2011. (selection)
– Meneley, Tobians and Jesse Oak Taylor (eds). Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geological Times. PennState University Press, 2017. (selection)
– Trexler, Adam. Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change (Under the Sign of Nature), University of Virginia Press, 2015. (selection)
– Usher, Phillilp John, “ Untranslating the Anthropocene”, Diacritics, 44:3, 2016: 56-77. 

Further reading (optional):
– Clark, Timothy. Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept., Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
– Hulme, Mike. Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity, 4th Ed, Cambridge University Press, 2009.
– Moore, Jason W. (ed.), Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History and the Crisis of Capitalism, PM Press, 2016.
– Morton, Timothy. Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Existence, Columbia University Press, 2016.
– Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Posthumanities), University of Minnesota Press 2013.
– Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought, Harvard University Press (2010) 2012.

All textual and audiovisual materials are provided in electronic format.