Water Worlds: Cultural Responses to Sea Level Rise and Catastrophic Flooding
Tuesday/Thursday 1:30 - 3:00 PM
As a result of climate change, the world that will take shape in the course of this century will be decidedly more inundated with water than we're accustomed to. The polar ice caps are melting, glaciers are retreating, ocean levels are rising, polar bear habitat is disappearing, countries are jockeying for control over a new Arctic passage, while low-lying cities and small island nations are confronting the possibility of their own demise. Catastrophic flooding events are increasing in frequency, as are extreme droughts. Hurricane-related storm surges, tsunamis, and raging rivers have devastated regions on a local and global scale. In this course, we will turn to the narratives and images that the human imagination has produced in response to the experience of overwhelming watery invasion, from Noah to New Orleans and beyond. Objects of analysis include mythology, ancient and early modern diluvialism, literature, art, film, and commemorative practice in countries and regions such as the United States, China, India, Thailand, the Middle East, the Netherlands, and Peru. The basic question we'll be asking is: What can we learn from the humanities that will be helpful for confronting the problems and challenges caused by climate change and sea level rise?