ENVIRON 323 - Environmentalism and Ecocriticism
Winter 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: SNE Program in the Environment
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Enforced Prerequisites:
No credit in GERMAN 303 or ENVIRON 304 with the topic "Environmentalism and Ecocriticism.".
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/4/23 - 4/18/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Nature and the environment feature prominently in the philosophy and cultural traditions of the German-speaking world—from the deification of nature within Romantic poetry and painting, through the blood-and-soil ideology of the Nazis, to the land art of Joseph Beuys and Hans Haacke during the Cold War. Today, German, Austrian, and Swiss people are considered some of the world’s most environmentally conscious, a fact reflected in the extent to which environmental issues currently shape the political agendas of their respective countries.

While it may sound like it should belong exclusively to political or scientific activity, ecocriticism is environmentally focused criticism practiced by producers of literature, film, art, and theory. American films like the Mad Max Trilogy, The Day After Tomorrow, or Pixar’s WALL-E are popular earlier examples of the post-apocalyptic genre that has exploded in the last five years, and which arguably participates in ecocriticism by imagining the worlds that might exist after environmental collapse; novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Emily St. John Mandel’s Station 11 are examples of a similar strain of criticism in English-language literature.

In this course, we will examine ecocriticism’s history and the appearance and disappearance of environmental themes in German-language literature, film, and art over the course of the last two centuries. We will read and learn about: the Anthropocene and Industrial Revolution, Alexander von Humboldt, J. W. Goethe, and Goethean science, Novalis, German Romanticism and the philosophy of nature, Adalbert Stifter, Ernst Haeckel and the reception of Darwinism in Germany, Wilhelm Riehl, Franz Kafka, the Blue Rider group, Martin Heidegger, the Frankfurt School, Ingeborg Bachmann, Joseph Beuys, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Elfriede Jelinek, Herta Müller, Sharon Dodua Otoo, Carl Amery and Germany’s Green Party, Yoko Tawada, Werner Herzog, Dorothee Elmiger and the European migration crisis, ecothriller film and more.

Successfully completing German 323: Environmentalism and Ecocriticism would help students to qualify for the Excellence in Sustainability Honors Cord Program. More info here: Sustainability Honors Cord | Planet Blue Campus

Course Requirements:

Short response papers and/or creative assignments; 6-8 page final paper.


ENVIRON 323 - Environmentalism and Ecocriticism
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
1/4/23 - 4/18/23

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