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RLFR 315
Nature in Crisis: The Classification Craze and The Rise of Museums Fall 2020
Division I
Cross-listed RLFR 315 / ENVI 314

Class Details

This course examines how understandings of nature evolved dramatically (and at times unsettlingly) from the 17th through the early 20th centuries and how this instability prompted a desire to classify and control natural phenomena. To analyze these issues, we will likewise consider the rise of modern museums, as well as the accompanying acts of classification and curation. We will consider how literary and philosophical texts from the aforementioned time periods depict nature, how real-world interactions with nature led to the creation of (illustrated) taxonomies, how colonization inflected notions of the natural world and also museum exhibits, and finally, how the cabinet of curiosities and later, the museum, provided a space in which to display and analyze nature’s more unusual treasures. As part of our explorations, we will build a virtual exhibit of our own to reflect our understanding of nature today and our engagement with concepts of nature from previous eras. Conducted in French. Counts as an Envi Humanities Elective for the Envi Concentration.
The Class: Format: seminar; Remote. This will be a remote course available to all students, whether they are on campus or completing coursework 100% remotely. We will convene synchronously via web-conferencing multiple times per week, with an emphasis on discussion in small groups. There will be many opportunities for all course members to interact via a series of varied online activities both during and in-between our synchronous sessions.
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 2807
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, online homework, essays, mid-semester presentation, final class project (virtual exhibit)
Prerequisites: exceptional performance in RLFR 106, or an RLFR 200-level course; or by placement test; or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: All are welcome, but if over-enrolled, preference will be given to French majors and certificate students; and those with compelling justification for admission.
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
RLFR 315 Division I ENVI 314 Division I
Attributes: ENVI Humanities, Arts + Social Science Electives

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