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Core Courses

The M.Phil comprises two core courses, which are compulsory, plus two additional electives from the approved list.

The core courses: 

This new interdisciplinary seminar considers the rich and difficult terrain where questions of ecological thought and environmental science interact with the humanities: with sociology, anthropology, history, imaginative writing, film, critical theory and the creative arts. Debates about ecology and the environment are often dominated by the specialized and instrumental languages of science, public policy and developmental economics. Yet the challenge of the Anthropocene age is related in crucial ways to the imaginative capacity of humans as a species: to imagining who we are and what it means to be human at a time when we have fundamentally altered our planetary home. 

Course outline.

Jointly taught by all of the staff involved in the development of the Environmental Humanities initiative at UCT, the course comprises five modules: 

AXL5415F: Earth, Ecology, Humanities A (Lesley Green (Anthropology) and Lance van Sittert (Historical Studies): Introduction to the Environmental Humanities at UCT

ELL5029F: Earth Ecology Humanities B (Hedley Twidle, English Literature) 
This focuses on questions of earth and ecology in the literatures of the global south.  Among other things we will explore how 'ecology' works as a metaphor, and how writers give conceptual shape to the 'slow violence' of environmental degradation. We will also consider broader questions about the politics of space and 'fictions of place' in southern African literatures.

SOC5018F: Earth Ecology Humanities C (Frank Matose, Sociology)
Here we will explore the political ecology of natural resources, with particular attention to land and agrarian matters and the commons.

FIN5013F: Earth Ecology Humanities D (Virginia MacKenny, Fine Art)
This course explores representations in visual art of landscape and nature, with particular attention to the role of art in environmental activism and building literacy in modes of visual argument.

FAM5044F: Earth Ecology Humanities E (Ian Rijsdijk, Film and Media) 
This course focuses on environmental film with specific attention to ecocriticism; environment as setting, and ecocinema.

Note: The above are all co-requisites of one another, i.e. one may not register for any one without registering for the other four.

AXL5414S (Lesley Green)

The term “anthropocene”, taken up by geologists to describe the era in which the effects of collective human action have become “significant on the scale of Earth history”, compels a rethinking of the divides between the human sciences and the natural sciences. The implication is that conceptual divisions between society and nature need to be rethought, and that new approaches to research are needed to speak to the challenges of comprehending the interconnections of human life, earth systems, and species. The issue is not only about creating new data sets, but about how to bring the different data sets into dialogue, to rethink the conceptual structures of the data sets themselves, and to work out how to speak to the gaps between them. This course offers an introduction to research methods that are needed in order to bring these interconnectivities and parts and wholes, into public discussion and decision-making. It specifically seeks to build on current conversations across the south on the intersection of decolonial literatures and the post-humanities.

Click here for further electives.