Ecocriticism is an umbrella term covering a diverse range of contemporary approaches to the study of the relationship between literature and the environment. In recent years, it has developed into one of the most productive and lively fields in literary studies. Its urgency in the Anthropocene is obvious: climate crisis, habitat loss, decline in insect and other species populations, microplastic pollution etc. These phenomena demand new politics, but also new literary, critical, and imaginative responses that challenge the conventionally anthropocentric literary representations of humans in the world. In the course, you will get acquainted with key concepts of ecocriticism. Against this backdrop, we will read and discuss a selection of literary texts of various genres (poetry, nature writing, fiction, short story) as well as contemporary theory and criticism. We will probe the potential, and the limits, of literary representations that aim to decentre the human and take into account the more-than-human world.
We will read parts of Timothy Clark's Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment and his The Value of Ecocriticism. Both texts are available online: Rostock UB (Cambridge Core). Please buy and read T. C. Boyle, A Friend of the Earth (2000). Further primary texts will be announced shortly before the start of term.