2016 - 2017 Courses
CHID 480: Grappling with Environmental Destruction: A Writing Course (Lauren O'Laughlin)
This course turns to environmental studies, feminist studies, and critical animal studies in order to grapple with the realities of environmental destruction. We will look at multiple sites of unsustainable practices including pollution, toxic waste dumping, resource extraction, and animal agriculture. In analyzing patterns of environmental destruction as well as environmental protection discourses, we will strategically apply an intersectional framework to assess how both value certain lives and disregard others. More specifically, we will analyze how racism, colonialism, sexism, transphobia and speciesism shape our environment and our discussions of protecting it. Course materials will include scholarly texts, activist works, and popular media.
Because this course has an emphasis on writing, we will also be thinking about how writing can be a useful medium to resist environmental destruction. In order to hone their writing skills, students will be regularly writing and reviewing each other’s work in class (primarily on Wednesdays) as well as reviewing each other’s collaborative writing projects. Additionally, I will meet with each of you twice over the quarter to discuss your writing in detail, once in groups and once individually. Because students inevitably have different strengths and weaknesses, I will offer optional readings about writing to help bolster your writing skills throughout the quarter. Moreover, this course includes an optional service-learning component for students who are interested in more extensive reflection through working with a local environmental protection organization.
CHID 250: Environmental Feminisms and Queer Ecologies (Lauren O'Laughlin)
This course incorporates lenses of environmental studies, feminist studies, and queer theory. We will trace the genealogy of ecofeminisms, feminist environmentalisms, and queer ecologies, and will analyze academic ecofeminist texts and popular representations of environmental protection to understand how racism, colonialism, sexism, and transphobia shape our environments and our discussions of protecting it. This course surveys several key environmental topics such as the effects of toxic chemicals on humans and wildlife and the environmental repercussions of animal agriculture.
CHID 480: Food for Thought (Nancy White)
Food for Thought examines the topic of food through a variety of lenses—food as sustenance in times of hardship, food as a way to bring family together, food as a source of childhood and childlike amazement, food as an economically and politically charged entity, food as a form of memoir, and food as a career (amongst others). The topic for the course—food—has been chosen because of its universality and significance. As humans, we must interact with food on a daily basis. Sometimes these interactions are commonplace and banal, but they can also be charged and difficult, satisfying and rewarding, or influential and life-changing. In this course, we will explore the decisions we make every day when we eat (as well as the decisions made for us) in order to think about where the food we eat comes from, how it gets to us, and who affects that journey.
CHID 250: Human and Nonhuman Animal Bodies in Literature and Film (Nancy White)
The interests of human and nonhuman animals are sometimes at odds with one another and with the planet. Some animals are viewed (by humans) as sympathetic, others as valuable, and still others are viewed as pests. From resource allocation to food production to public policy, decisions are made based on human preferences and carried out by those with power. While the sovereignty of humans is often exerted over nonhuman animals, this course will also question the boundaries of the human body and its place “at the top of the food chain.” Human and Nonhuman Animal Bodies will interrogate the role of bodies (human and nonhuman) in society by examining literary and filmic works in which they feature prominently. Some questions we will investigate are: Whose bodies are subjugated and whose are elevated? Why do we prefer certain bodies to others and what kinds of choices do we make based on those preferences? Where do our bodies end and where do others begin? Who exerts power over human and nonhuman bodies and to what end?
2015 - 2016 Courses
CHID 250: Exploring Human and Nonhuman Animal Bodies in Literature and Film (Nancy White & Katie Gillespie)
The interests of human and nonhuman animals are sometimes at odds with one another and with the planet. Some animals are viewed (by humans) as sympathetic, others as valuable, and still others are viewed as pests. From resource allocation to food production to public policy, decisions are made based on human preferences and carried out by those with power. While the sovereignty of humans is often exerted over nonhuman animals, this course will also question the boundaries of the human body and its place “at the top of the food chain.” The course will interrogate the role of bodies (human and nonhuman) in society by examining literary and filmic works in which they feature prominently. Some questions we will investigate are: Whose bodies are subjugated and whose are elevated? Why do we prefer certain bodies to others and what kinds of choices do we make based on those preferences? Where do our bodies end and where do others begin? Who exerts power over human and nonhuman bodies and to what end?
CHID 480: Life in Excess: Waste, Want, and the Politics of Surplus (David Giles)
This course will examine the ways in which excess structures our lives, our social systems, and our environment. While, in capitalist societies, we are commonly taught that the most important principle in determining the value and distribution of things is scarcity, when we look carefully, we find that in many parts of our world the opposite is true. Surpluses, waste, discards, and detritus of all kinds are a profoundly important part of our world, and a closer look at them can help us rethink all of those assumptions we have held dear about economy, politics, society, and the environment.
CHID 250: Animals, Environment, Food and Justice (Katie Gillespie)
How do we understand the ethical and political dimensions of the food system for animals, humans and the environment? How does animal agriculture operate as a dominant institution fraught with complex interspecies social relations? What are the impacts of animal agriculture on humans, animals, and the environment and what movements for justice are working to mitigate these impacts?
This course explores issues of justice for humans, animals and the environment in animal agriculture primarily in the United States. Framed at the outset by George Orwell's 1984, the course asks students to explore how discourse operates powerfully across space and time to shape processes of production and consumption and policies related to the meat, dairy and egg industries. The second part of the course contextualizes how agricultural and food policies are shaped. Next, we consider literature on climate change and the environmental impacts of industrial 'livestock' production. This provides context for Part 4, which aims to understand the way these production practices affect human laborers and surrounding communities. The fifth part of the course is dedicated to taking seriously the lives and deaths of animals at the center of the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Finally, the course concludes with a class on how we might envision futures of multispecies justice. In this class, we will spend time synthesizing all we have learned to envision practical alternative pathways forward (for food production, consumption and policy) that take seriously the plights of humans, animals and the environment.
CHID 250: Eating in the City: Food, Ethics, and the Urban Environment (David Giles)
How does the act of eating make the city? How does the city remake the way we eat? This course investigates the ways in which food-webs and food-ways are cultivated through the everyday rhythms of urban life--from the commerce of supermarkets and farmers markets to the peregrinations of urban scavengers and guerilla gardeners--and the political and social formations of urban identity that animate the city--from the high-income gentrification of slick coffee shops to the migrant labor that populate ethnic enclaves, from the precarious labor that shops at the food bank to the world-class fine dining that gleams from the pages of in-flight magazines.
The course is inspired by a range of questions, both analytical and ethical. Some will concern our food ways--those cultural traditions and values that shape the way we eat. (What identities animate the city? What values does it cultivate? What peoples does it bring together? What peoples does it segregate? What traditions and practices are inscribed upon the built environment?) And some will concern our food chains--those webs of political and economic relationships that connect field with plate. (Who grows the city’s food? How does it get to our plates? Who profits? What sorts of scarcity and surplus are manifested in the city’s geography? What happens to our environment in the process?)
We investigate the implications of these food ways and food webs for both the social and material landscape of the city, engaging with questions of social justice, environmental justice, and the built environment through a range of interlocutors, including anthropology, geography, sociology, history, economics, ecology, critical race studies, women’s studies, and urban planning. This exploration will demand an investigation of patterns, past and present, of not only industrial and economic change, or geographic and social stratification, but also of the symbolic and cultural forces that shape the shared spaces of the city, of the municipal policies that cultivate them, of the patterns of labor, migration, and disenfranchisement that make it all possible, and of the changes in built environment and ecology that result.
CHID 490: Food for Thought (Nancy White)
This course investigates our relationship with food through several different lenses: food as sustenance in times of hardship, food as a way to bring family together, food as a source of childhood and childlike amazement, food as an economically and politically charged entity, food as a form of memoir, food as a new scientific frontier, and food as a career. Readings will range from memoirs and other nonfiction to novels, comics, and films. Throughout the quarter, students will be asked to explore their memories of, to scrutinize their relationships with, and to reexamine their views on food.