Big Game: Adventure, Empire, Ecology asks how the era of imperial expansion and the study of “natural history” leads into our contemporary ecological crisis. We will begin with readings of influential colonial travel and adventure narratives like Robinson Crusoe, the captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson, sections of Darwin and Captain Cook’s travel journals, and in-class work with archival materials like the Indian Botanical Survey Flora and the photographs of Subhankar Banerjee. In the first weeks, we will consider how the aesthetics of adventure circulated throughout the British empire in both the East Indies and India, and ramifies elsewhere in the Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Belgian holdings. We will conclude with a suite of readings through which we will attempt to locate a productive intersection between ecocriticism and postcolonial studies, drawing together sensationalist disaster journalism with environmental activism emerging from the Global South. This course will be especially of interest to students in English, Comparative Literature, and Environmental Studies.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
presentation, short paper and revision, final research project
one lower-division literature or related course
students with related course experience
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
This course will consider the relationship between the practice of the natural sciences (including the human sciences) and imperial power. We will read texts both from and against the aesthetics of empire. The DPE contribution will carry the course from philosophy and nature writing to literature and visual art.
ENGL Literary Histories B