Forest Worlds: Mapping the Arboreal Imaginary in Literature and Film

GRMN 151-401, CIMS 152-401, COML 154-401, ENVS 151-401

Simon Richter

Tuesday / Thursday 7:00-8:30pm

The destruction of the world’s forests through wild fires, deforestation, and global heating threatens planetary bio-diversity and may even, as a 2020 shows, trigger civilizational collapse. Can the humanities help us think differently about the forest? At the same time that forests of the world are in crisis, the “rights of nature” movement is making progress in forcing courts to acknowledge the legal “personhood” of forests and other ecosystems. The stories that humans have told and continue to tell about forests are a source for the imaginative and cultural content of that claim. At a time when humans seem unable to curb the destructive practices that place themselves, biodiversity, and forests at risk, the humanities give us access to a record of the complex inter-relationship between forests and humanity. Forest Worlds serves as an introduction to the environmental humanities. The environmental humanities offer a perspective on the climate emergency and the human dimension of climate change that are typically not part of the study of climate science or climate policy. Students receive instruction in the methods of the humanities—cultural analysis and interpretation of literature and film—in relation to texts that illuminate patterns of human behavior, thought, and affect with regard to living in and with nature.

Spring 2021