Weird Weather: Literature, Culture and Climate
This unit address the dynamic interrelationship of nature and culture with respect to the European exploration and colonization of Australia and New Zealand. Through the analysis and interpretation of a range of written and visual texts, we will consider how cultural differences inform the perception of, and relationship to, the natural environment, as well as the ways in which the natural environment itself shapes patterns of settlement and modes of representation. The approach is multidisciplinary, incorporating ecocritical, postcolonial, and feminist perspectives.
Students who successfully complete this unit will have developed: some knowledge of the dynamic interrelationship of culture and nature, especially with respect to the European exploration and colonization of Australia and New Zealand from the 18th century to the present day; an understanding of the role of cultural difference in the perception of, and relationship to, the natural environment, as well as an understanding of the agency of the natural environment in shaping patterns of settlement and forms of cultural production; competency in the analysis and interpretation of a range of relevant written and visual texts from ecocritical, feminist and postcolonial perspectives; skills in presenting both orally and in writing their own informed ideas about the interrelationship of nature and culture in the exploration and colonization of Australia and New Zealand.
Class test (2000 words): 40%;
essay (2,500 words): 50%;
class participation: 10%
Class paper, class test and essay. Class paper and essay topics on these texts include:
How does Campbell rework the classical European genre of "Works and Days"
in response to the Australian environment? Is this post-pastoral?
What connections between weather, land and people does Wright disclose?
Compare and contrast the representation and significance of the cyclonic flood in Carpentaria with the Babylonian and/or biblical flood narratives, giving careful consideration to the different religious frameworks through which each is seen.
Compare and contrast Al Gore's documentary film An Inconvenient Truth with the Roland Emmerich's disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow and/or George Turner's short story, "The Fittest". Which of these texts do you think provides a more effective way of communicating about climate change and what kinds of responses do you believe each are likely to elicit?