Special Topics in Film Genre: Eco-criticism and the Genres of Nature
108 | CCN: 31693
Late 20th-century scholars struggled to articulate the scope and aims of "eco-criticism", a mode of critical inquiry that sought to account for the ways that cultural texts describe the natural world and the forces that inhabit and define it. This course will introduce students to eco-criticism’s tendency to problematize terms like "nature" and "environment," asking how they function as foundational categories that both advance and challenge the goals of contemporary environmentalism. Course materials will invite students to read "nature" rhetorically in the cinema, asking what counts as the "nature" described by popular and scientific discourses and to what deeply contested political uses this category might be put. In our exploration of everything from wildlife films to revenge-of-nature horror narratives, we will ask how contemporary cinema has made a genre of nature and naturalized its generic containment. Finally, we will examine how late 20th and early 21st-century discourses about the human, the animal and the ecological are historically entwined with arguments about the function of individuality and collectivity, political organization and nationalism, and the destiny of the planet.