English 1110, Fall 2018
Climate Change Refugees
Climate change may be the most momentous challenge human beings have ever faced. During your lifetime, it will profoundly shape the world and impact all life on earth. As drought, sea-level rise, and other human-caused "natural" disasters increase, the numbers of climate refugees, migrants, and displaced people will swell from currently tens of millions, to the hundreds of millions.
How do we understand this problem? What are its human dimensions? What ethical questions does it raise? What should we do about it?
Climate change and associated issues are often considered too big, too complicated, too distant, indeed, "unimaginable."
Welcome to an experimental section of Literary Interpretation where we will attempt to use the human imagination, especially the literary imagination, to begin to understand the experience of climate refugees and the issues they raise for our common humanity.
We will begin with perhaps the most honored American novel ever written -- winner of the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes -- The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck. We will follow with other contemporary climate and refugee related fiction, "cli-fi," magical realism, young adult literature, poetry, essays, films, etc.
Students will engage in extensive and careful reading, write literary analyses, blog commentaries, a short story, and comparative essays. They will also make class presentations and engage in a community-based activity.
This class will develop skills of literary interpretation relevant to advanced work in English and to global citizenship.
Students in this course are expected to keep up with current events regarding the course theme. I urge you to take advantage of the WMU library making the NY Times available to WMU students for free.
This class is experimental and the syllabus provisional and under development.
Since the class is discussion-based, attendance and preparation are essential to your own learning and to the learning of your classmates. It is vital that you acquire, borrow, or rent ALL of the required books and that you carefully complete ALL of the reading and viewing.
Missing any classes will affect your learning. Missing 3 classes or more will lower your grade and missing 5 classes may lead to failing. Study my philosophy regarding discussion, preparation, participation, attendance, grading, and learning!
Your final course grade will be an average of grades for the major assignments, listed and weighted below.
This course will follow WMU policies regarding academic honesty.
My office is 723 Sprau Tower, 387-2605. Office hours are before and after class and by appointment. You can always reach me via email.
Aug 29: Introductions
Sep 5: Drought
Sep 10: Migration
1. Read: The Grapes of Wrath, Chapters 12-21
Sep 12: Migration Con't
Sep 17: Life in the New Land
Sep 19: Writing about Grapes of Wrath
Sep 24: Climate Change
Sep 26: Religious/Ethical Perspectives on Climate Change
Oct 1: Future Drought
Oct 3: Future Drought Con't
Oct 8: Water Rights
Oct 9: Last day to register to vote in November
Oct 10: Water Rights Con't
1. Write: Blog Post inspired by Water Knife
Oct 15: The Wall
Oct 17-21 Fall Break
Oct 22: Refugees
1. Read: Refugees to page 186
Oct 24: Refugees Con't
Oct 29: Refugees Con't
Oct 31: Refugees Con't
Nov 5: Contemporary Refugees
Nov 6: Election Day
Nov 7: Climate Change Video
Nov 12: Climate Change / Raps
Nov 14: Refugee Poetry
"Home" by Warsan Shire
Nov 19: Future Global Migration
Nov 21-25: Thanksgiving Break
Nov 26: Future Global Migration, Con't
Nov 28: Ethical Questions
Dec 3: Your Vision of the Future
Dec 5: Your Vision of the Future
Dec 10 - 14 Finals Week
Dec 10 (Monday) 5:00-7:00: Final Exam: