American Political Rhetoric
153 | CCN: 15073
"Green Rhetoric": The Rhetoric and Politics of American Environmentalism
Instructor: Dale Carrico
Of what does "Greenness" consist? In what does "Greenness" abide? Just what is "Greenness" good for? In this course we will survey a range of key vocabularies of environmental thought and activism — Deep Ecology, eco-socialism, eco-feminism, environmental justice, anti-civilizationism, permaculture, sustainable development, disaster capitalism, and futurological geo-engineering — as well as engage with more specifically and indicatively American traditions, from Transcendentalism to wilderness conservation (or exterminism), the land ethic, and consumer lifestyle ecology. We will also delve into what seem to be prevalent rhetorical strategies to communicate the urgency of environmental crises and mobilize sufficient constituencies to address them. What is compelling or not about current forms of environmental journalism? What delights lie in store for the reader of international agreements on climate change and policy papers available from the Environmental Protection Agency? Does the scientificity of statistics lend force to environmental claims or alienate people from narratives of lived distress and shared threat? If liberal governance is inadequate to address environmental catastrophe are efforts to circumvent the political via macro-design strategies or micro-mindfulness lifeways more likely to succeed? Does the proliferation of environmentalist identities and subcultures facilitate necessary political organization or undermine it or simply reveal its ineradicable intersectional stratification? We will even ponder why so many environmentalist websites make recourse to similar color palettes and fonts and images. Our focus will never drift far from current dilemmas, but the premise of the course is that these dilemmas are illuminated by critical vocabularies just as the critical vocabularies are substantiated by the dilemmas to which they are applied. At the end of the term, each student will create a conceptual-keyword map tracing their own course through the course materials and finding their own settlement within them, however unsettling it may be.
The course reader will contain selections from Carol Adams, Wendell Barry, Robert Bullard, Rachel Carson, Greta Gaard, Donna Haraway, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, Joel Kovel, Aldo Leopold, Bill McKibben, Chico Mendes, Timothy Morton, Arne Naess, Rob Nixon, Vandana Shiva, Anna Tsing, many others….