Saturday, September 20, 2014

Essay #2
Draft 1, Due: 9/25 (in class) 
Final, Due: 9/28 
Length: 6 pages

Choose one of the following:

I.  Compare and contrast the aesthetics of the sublime in the work of Humboldt, Sloterdijk, Siegel, and Ferguson.
  • Instructions: Begin by addressing concerns that the authors raise but do not discuss to your satisfaction; building on this critique, propose a new version of the sublime more in sync with the particular sense of awe arrived at through the encounter with anthropogenic climate change. What happens to the logic of the sublime and its familiar sensibility of wonderment --an encounter that since the early 18th century has occurred largely under the imaginary canopy of "Nature"-- once we enter the new time of the Anthropocene? Make sure to ground your argument in concrete examples and quotations from the texts.
    • Additional Materials: Vincent Crapanzano's Imaginative Horizons; key terms [infinite/finite, beauty, terror, self, deep time, space, ethics, sublime object, boundlessness, uncertainty, fullness, visible/invisible, understanding, excess, climate change, freedom/unfreedom, catastrophe]   

II.  Analyze the implicit theologies of Nature that underpin the meaning, significance, and experiential impact of the view from Cornell.

  • InstructionsIn the article 'Academic Work', James Siegel brings together a discussion of the symbolic and material boundaries of the view from Cornell, the spatial poetics of knowledge it structures, and the various ways that students and faculty members have learned to think about life, death, and the technologies of safety. Thirty-five years on, the view from Cornell remains open to new interpretations and understandings by its viewing subjects. In this essay, your task is to rethink James Siegel's article 'Academic Work' using course readings, data collected during in class field exercises, and any additional materials of your choosing. What happens when the “nature of youth suicide” and the “Nature” of the Romantic sublime become entangled? Carefully unpack the connection between the aesthetics of Nature and the formulation of suicide as a 'foreseeable' pathological condition at Cornell. How does Cornell’s “unique physical environment” circumscribe the horizon of potential security “fixes” imagined as being available to the university? When and how does climate and weather play into these discussions? 

III.  Agree or disagree: The Anthropocene designates a new form of collective self-murder.

  • InstructionsUse course readings, field exercises, and any other related materials to organize and shape a discussion around the question of whether or not the Anthropocene signals a new geological age in which 'voluntary death' becomes inscribed as a material strata. Develop a theory of what makes an act suicidal, or construct a critical typology of collective self-violence in order to situate the Anthropocene along a spectrum of murderous acts. You do NOT want to end up with a claim that says nothing more than "The Anthropocene is (or is not) a new form of suicide". Instead, your goal is to say something new and not obvious about what you have read.

No comments:

Post a Comment