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com) 773‐931‐9570 (cell) Office hours: By appointment only Course Description As the science of ecology helps us to understand the natural world better we see that the old dichotomy of nature and the city no longer works. That is because ecology teaches us that cities are also ecosystems and there is some evidence that they will be vitally important in any resilient response to the ecological crisis. We don’t need to leave the city to experience nature, because the city is already in nature. But this also requires a rethinking of nature, no longer can nature simply be something “over there” but is part of our everyday life as urban citizens. In this course we will explore the meaning of both “nature” and “the city”. We will begin by looking at the way nature and the city used to be separated and how both were given an identity by opposing one to the other. We will then examine the collapse of this dichotomy, focusing on how that collapse has been experienced as a natural disaster or the return of nature in human cities. This intertwining of a savage nature and a savage city will be examined through JG Ballard’s re‐telling of Robinson Crusoe in Concrete Island before turning to a more positive way to understand this breakdown. Finally as a class we will participate in the ecosystem that is our city by participating in a ecological restoration activity. By the end of this course you will gain an understanding of how concepts like “nature” and “the city” gain value and meaning and you will come to see Chicago, our city, as a wild space, an ecosystem, where the drama of nature plays out. Learning Outcomes Upon completing the course the student should be able to: • engage with multiple disciplines and media, from philosophical writings to novels, in order to investigate and understand a concept (in this case nature and the city). • identify and explain the different conceptions of nature and the city found in our texts; • be able to identify the central themes and arguments of the texts and state them in a clear and sympathetic way in class discussion; • be able to formulate criticisms in a way that is attentive to the original author’s intent and argumentation. Grade Summary There will be two tests (comprised of short‐answer questions and essay questions), one written response to a set question each week, and a final paper (10‐pages, double‐ spaced). Each test will count for 15% (for a total of 30%) of your final grade, the seminar writing (5‐pages, double‐spaced)will count for 15%, your seminar presentation/leading will count for 10%, and the final paper will count for 30%, and finally 15% for classroom participation.
It is important that you do not miss a class and especially an exam. Any make‐up for the in‐class exams will only be given due to extreme situations, and this is done very rarely. You must have prior permission from the instructor to take a makeup. The paper is due via Desire2Learn (click the “Dropbox” tab) or my email by the end of the day (11:59PM) on Thursday June 7th. The paper is to be submitted electronically only. I prefer that the paper be a PDF. Details concerning the paper (its format and content) will be passed out after the first exam. Late papers will not be accepted. Cheating/plagiarism will be dealt with as the serious infractions that they are, possibly leading to failure; see the Student Handbook for details. In groups of 2 you will prepare to lead a seminar. For this you will need to summarize the important parts of the reading, fill us in on some background information, and come up with discussion questions. You must write at least 5 pages (doublespaced) of preparation and turn this in to me for part of your seminar grade. You are encouraged to use media (powerpoint, short films clips, etc.). Cell Phone and Laptop Policy While I understand the addiction to cell phones, especially smart phones, the material we are studying is very difficult and therefore requires your undivided attention. If you are caught using your phone during a lecture you will be given one warning (either verbally or by email). If you are caught a second time or more you will face a reduction of five points for each offense from your highest scoring piece of coursework. Please turn all cell phones off during the lecture. If I can do it, so can you. Laptops are acceptable in the class, but for note taking only. If you appear not to be paying attention because you’re distracted by something non‐lecture related on your laptop then I will ask you to read the last line of notes you have just written. If you can’t then you will be given a warning (either verbally or by email). If you are caught a second time or more you will face a reduction of five points for each offense from your highest scoring piece of coursework. Desire2Learn Please make sure that you check the email attached to your Desire2Learn profile. I will be sending emails to that address. All course documents, powerpoints, audio of lectures, and other helpful links will be available on the Desire2Learn course page. Remarks on Lectures, Readings, Films, and Classroom Discussions We are dealing with adult themes and a range of different belief systems in this class. You will be exposed to different ways of thinking both in the readings, the lectures, and discussions in class. At times you may find yourself offended by one or more of the ideas presented and when you are not offended a fellow classmate may well be. This is ok! While of course verbal or physical abuse is strictly not tolerated, we have to give each other permission to be offensive (within the bounds of respectful discourse) and to be offended. By remaining in this course you are agreeing to have respectful conversations about a wide range of different beliefs. This goes especially for the films and clips we will watch in class. At times I have chosen material that may be offensive to some. Some films will be rated‐R and some clips from TV shows will be rated TV‐MA. By remaining enrolled in this class after the first session you are entering into a non‐verbal agreement that you understand and accept you will be asked to watch these films and clips.
Required Texts • Course reader (found on D2L) with selections from: o William Cronin, Nature’s Metropolis (Norton) o Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (Verso) o Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (Vintage) o Michel de Certeau, “Walking in the City” in The Practice of Everyday Life (University of California Press) o Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (Anchor) o Henry David Thoreau, “Walking” in Walden (public domain) • JG Ballard, Concrete Island (Picador) • Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Harvard UP)
Outline of Course and Reading Schedule Readings listed are to be read for that class period. If the reading is listed under September 14th, it is to be read prior to the September 14th session of class. The schedule and procedures for this course are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances; changes will be announced in class. Each class will consist of lecture and organized group discussion of the text. March 26th Introduction Part 1: Leaving the City to Be in Nature March 28th Walking Out of the City into Nature Seminar 1 Thoreau, pp. 1‐30 (course reader) April 2nd The End of Nature Seminar 2 McKibben, pp. 47‐93 (course reader) April 4th Walking in the City de Certeau, pp. 91‐110 (course reader) Part 2: Nature Attacking the City th April 9 Natural Disasters Seminar 3 Davis, Ecology of Fear, selections from Chapter 1 (course reader) April 11th The State of Nature in the Slums Seminar 3 Davis, Planet of Slums, pp. 121‐150 (course reader) April 16th Robinson Crusoe (film) April 18th The City as Wild Nature I Seminar 4 Ballard, pp. 1‐60 April 23rd The City as Wild Nature II Ballard, pp. 61‐120
April 25th The City as Wild Nature III Seminar 5 Ballard, pp. 121‐180 April 30th Test #1 Part 3: Rethinking Nature and the City May 2nd Urban Ecology and the Urban Ecosytem Cronon, pp. 97‐147 (course reader), [Note that there is more reading for today’s class than usual, so plan more time than usual. May 7th No Class May 9th No Class May 14th Field Trip (meet in the quad, class will end at Lincoln Park) The Hybrid of Nature and the City I: What is a hybrid? Seminar 6 Latour, pp. 1‐24 May 16th The Hybrid of Nature and the City II: How does science think? Seminar 7 Latour, pp. 24‐48 May 21st The Hybrid of Nature and the City III: What mediates between nature and the city? Seminar 8 Latour, pp. 49‐73 May 23rd The Hybrid of Nature and the City IV Seminar 9 Latour, pp. 74‐97 May 28th No Class, Test #2 (take home) May 30th The Hybrid of Nature and the City VI Seminar 10 Latour, pp. 98‐145
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