STS 502 001/ENGL 553A 001: Core Seminar in Science and Technology Studies

Instructors: Vin Nardizzi
Section: 001

Term: 2
Meets: Term 2, Monday, 2-5 pm, Buchanan Tower 597

Notes: Most of our 2nd year MA students, as well as incoming students, should register for this course. If English is your home department, please register through the ENGL 553A to free up more STS reserved seats for our students

We live in an epoch that scientists have named the Anthropocene. But what, exactly, is that? This seems a question with an easy, if devastating, answer: the era of “man-made” (and irreversible) geologic change. In an effort to elaborate the complexities embedded in this answer, this seminar will introduce students to the multidisciplinary literatures that have recently and increasingly constellated around this designation. We shall examine scientific accounts that aim to establish (and ratify) the origin of the Anthropocene and to predict its global effects on climate and sea levels. We shall also read scholarship that critiques the underlying assumptions about the Anthropocene. We shall explore alternate nomenclatures for it (Anthrobscene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene) as well as the different narratives that these designations condense. And, finally, we shall take a semester-long view of the forms and formats that criticism has taken in response to the Anthropocene to measure, insofar as we can, whether this epoch is also changing the way scholars are conducting and communicating research.

Requirements are a seminar presentation, a book review, and a 15-page term paper.

Readings will likely include scientific materials by Stoermer, Crutzen, and the Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA); critiques, essays, and alternate narratives by Lewis and Maslin, Luciano, Mentz, Boes and Marshall (and their contributors), Ahuja, Haraway, Latour, LeMenager, Moore, Parikka, Culbert, Aravamudan, Chakrabarty, and Morton. For good measure, we should also look at excerpts from Foucault’s Order of Things.