Literature and Nature

The natural environment fulfills a variety of roles in literature. It can at once be a site of inspiration, a backdrop to anxiety, a portal to fantasy or a mirror to the self. Likewise, literature can help us to gain a better understanding of nature, such as when science fiction explores environmental crises and solutions to them, or tragedy tries to get at the heart of what it means to be human, or an animal or something in between.

This intensive co-taught course is structured around four themes, each one designed to promote in-depth exploration of the complex interactive relationship between literature and nature. Across eight weeks we will be reading works by Euripides, Shakespeare, Goethe, Defoe, Kafka, and Thoreau, as well as a selection of more contemporary works, including science fiction. At the same time, we will be putting these literary examples into contact with philosophical materials that problematize our relationship to the natural world, such as critical climate change studies, feminist theories, indigenous theories, geo-aesthetics and critical animal studies.

Anne Mulhall:

In 2016-2017 Anne Mulhall was Artemis A.W. and Martha Joukowsky Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Literature at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. She completed a PhD in Comparative Literature (Cultural and Critical Theory focus) at King's College London in December 2015. She has an MA in Comparative Literature from New York University and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin, where she also completed her BA in English and Philosophy. Her current work addresses a series of questions surrounding the culture of information, work, and human agency in contemporary European and US thought.

Margret Grebowicz:

Originally from Poland, Margret grew up mostly in Texas. She studied German literature, philosophy, and art history at the University of Texas at Austin, while working in record stores. She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University in 2001, having had the great privilege of studying with Jean-François Lyotard before his death. Her first job was at the University of Houston-Downtown, and during that time she authored numerous articles about various aspects of French philosophy, visual culture, feminist epistemology, and radical democracy, among other subjects, as well as translating poetry from her native Polish into English. Margret has been tenured at both UHD and Goucher College, and received two international fellowships, from the Leverhulme Trust and the Fulbright Foundation. Following a year at University of Dundee as a Leverhulme Fellow, she lived in New York City and worked as a jazz vocalist from 2010 to 2017, while simultaneously commuting to Baltimore to teach at Goucher. Margret serves on the executive committee of the International Association for Environmental Philosophy and co-direct the Transhuman Alliance for Climbing Theory. She is the author of Whale Song (2017, Bloomsbury Academic Press), The National Park to Come (2015, Stanford University Press), Why Internet Porn Matters (2013, Stanford University Press), co-author of Beyond the Cyborg: Adventures with Donna Haraway (2013, Columbia University Press), and editor of Gender after Lyotard (2007, State University of New York Press). In recent years, she has published articles about time-lapse photography and climate change, bestiality pornography, jazz, and bored dolphins. She still translates occasionally and thinks about returning to music. She still thinks and writes “with” Lyotard.