Mark Dion, Landfill (1999-2000)

Specialized Topics in Cultural Studies

Imagining Extinction: De-Extinction, Biodiversity Loss, and Zombies in the Anthropocene

Mondays, 10-11.30am, SR34.K1 (Attemsgasse 25, basement)

In July 2017, The Guardian reported: "A 'biological annihilation' of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth's history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research. Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation."

Indeed, numerous commentators and cultural critics claim that we are currently witnessing the sixth mass extinction—a largely human-made annihilation of life. No wonder that in order to cope with (or even suppress) this death of global proportions, human beings have begun imagining extinction, distancing themselves from the reality of the inescapable biological fact of mortality and the impending threat of human extinction through cultural practices. Accordingly, in this seminar, we will read a wide variety of secondary texts and discuss a wide variety of cultural artifacts and performances dealing with extinction in some shape or form to explore the different meanings of extinction, ever since the concept emerged in the late eighteenth century.

Books to buy:

James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans (1826) > the 2008 Oxford World's Classics Edition (April 8)
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Galápagos (1985) > the 1990 HarperCollins Edition (May 20)
Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation (2014) > the 2015 Film Tie-In Edition (June 3)

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