Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our Course Description

Rhetoric 181: Green Rhetoric

Instructor: Dale Carrico

Area of Concentration: Public Discourse

Office Hours: Tuesdays 3-5pm, Dwinelle, and by Appointment

Class Times:
TuTh: 5pm - 6:30pm, 156 Dwinelle

It is curious that all at once we will use the word "natural" to denote the known as against the supernatural, we will use it to describe that which is susceptible to instrumental description as against the unscientific, we will use it to describe the conventional as against the unnatural, we will use it describe wilderness as against artifice, we will use it to describe what is beyond utility in the sublime, and we will use it to mark our imperfect understanding of systems on which we depend nevertheless for our survival.

It is from the problematic and promising vantages of the "natural," so construed, that we will grapple with some Green discourses on offer, in history, and of our own: What are the differences between "environmentalisms" as sites of identification, as subcultures, as movements, as political programs, as research programs, as rhetorical perspectives? How has Green education, agitation, organization, consciousness changed over time? How is Green changing now, and in what ways does Greenness abide?

In this course we will read a number of canonical and representative "environmentalist" discourses and texts, seeking to understand better what it means to read and write the world Greenly. Tracking through these texts each of us will struggle to weave together and testify to our own sense of the Green as an interpretive register, as a writerly skill-set, as a site of imaginative investment, and as a provocation to action. This is a Keyword course, engaging environmentalist discourses historically, theoretically, practically through an exploration of a number of key terms, among them: "Agroforestry," "Alienation," "Appropriate Technology," "Biodiversity," "Biomimicry," "Biopiracy," "Biosphere," "Climate Change," "Climate Refugees," "Commons," "Consensus Science," "Cradle-to-Cradle," "Deep Ecology," "Democracy," "Design," "Ecology," "Ecofeminism," "Ecosocialism," "Enclosure," "Endangered Species," "Energy Descent," "Environmental Justice," "Externality," "Footprint," "Geoengineering," "Greenwashing," "Industrial Ag," "Leapfrogging," "Limit," "Local," "Militarism," "Monoculture," "Native," "Nature," "Natural Capitalism," "Organic," "Permaculture," "Political Ecology," "Polyculture,""Post-Scarcity," "Precautionary Principle," "Recycling/Downcycling,""Renewable," "Resilience," "Social Ecology," "Sustainability," "Technofix," "Toxicity/Abrasion," "Triple Bottom Line," "Viridian," "Wilderness," and so on.

The course will be quite reading intensive. Each student will be delivering an in-class presentation drawn from personal research, as well as co-facilitating discussion of one of our assigned texts. The final exam will provide an occasion to come to terms with the Key Words that will preoccupy our attention throughout our conversation.

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