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Theoretical Explorations Module XVI
Anthropocene: Limits to Ecology
This course will think critically about the Anthropocene and its presence in contemporary art, thought, and philosophy. Man-made ecological crisis has taken center stage in art today, depicting injustice not only between humans, but increasingly across species. At the same time, in philosophy, new realities emerge around the clock, premised on there being a Great Outdoors, a nature-in-itself independent of human beings. On these views, the universe should be a democracy of objects that includes inanimate and animate nature, human and nonhuman, but, alas, humans have failed to decolonize their relation to nature: they continue to impinge upon, crowd out, and destroy the earth in an apocalyptic present.
We’ll rethink this paradigm of contemporary Anthropocene discourse, considering how it tends to screen nature screaming, in a double sense: it projects ecological disaster anthropomorphically – through the eyes of humans grappling with their own history and experience of suffering – and thus obscures what may be wrong with how we redress not just interspecies relations in the universe, but also interhuman relations, since the two might be related, if not the same.