Cinema and the Environment

This seminar will approach cinema through the lenses of environmentalist thinking and philosophy. Its primary focus will be on applying a socio-ecological approach to the production, viewing, and 'reading' of movies. Accordingly, we will discuss how film (re)presents the world for us human beings and how these ways of representation affect our ways of 'reading' film and 'seeing' the world. We will thus query the (eco)politics of film, in particular how movies have represented the relationships between human and nonhuman (or 'more-than-human') worlds.

In the course of the semester, we will ponder questions such as: How do movies generate meanings and affects, in particular connected to our understandings of the 'human' and the 'nonhuman'; the '(techno-)cultural' and the 'natural'? In what ways have histories of colonialism, Eurocentrism, anthropocentricism, patriarchy, and consumerism influenced our ways of seeing? How does the technocultural apparatus frame what is seen? How have alternative cinemas challenged dominant visual codes? Is there a 'biophilic' way of representing the world? In order to answer these questions, we will discuss a variety of secondary readings and a number of movies from different genres, including ethnographic documentaries, animated movies, nature/wildlife documentaries, independent films, but also Hollywood blockbusters.

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