240G - 002 | CCN: 23132
Instructor: Nasser Zakariya
A widespread historiographic, scientific, philosophical and cultural narrative is that humanity has increasingly been realizing its own marginality. This course will examine historical and contemporary underpinnings of this narrative, focusing attention on traditional and ongoing understandings of humanity as peripheral, understandings that shadow, are in explicit dialogue with and conceptually dependent on constructions of humanity as central. The historiographical, philosophical and literary depictions of chastised human vanity themselves point to the mirroring operation of the construction of human marginality. Across the historical and conceptual field of both this chastisement and the aesthetic and ethical defenses of human centrality, we will follow the shifting places in which anthropocentricism has been argued to reveal itself and as needing to be rooted out, claims that have called attention as much to the spiritual status of humanity, as to its scientific mastery and its technological and environmental dominance. From this perspective, we will examine claims regarding the present-day relationship between natural historical and human historical narratives, and likewise, the way in which historical periodizations such as the anthropocene can be critiqued and defended as either anthropocentric or anthroperipheral. We will further examine literary and documentary material thematizing questions of this periphery.