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Wednesdays (October 11, 2023 – January 31, 2024) | 12.00 – 13.30
Philosophikum, Seminar Room S63

In light of numerous ongoing climate-related protests, the concept of ecoterrorism, broadly understood as the deliberate use of violence or terror in ecological activism, has captured widespread public attention. Historically, ecoterrorism, along with related terms like ecological sabotage (“ecotage”) and “monkeywrenching,” emerged as political categories in the 1970s and has become a significant part of US-American political tradition ever since, but many academic approaches have so far almost exclusively focused on its legal and criminological implications. As ecotage and ecoterrorism originated in fiction, it is both necessary and desirable to add literary, film, and cultural studies to these perspectives, with a view to incorporating perspectives on postcoloniality, subalternity, environmental (in)justice, and individual/collective agency into the ecoterrorist framework.

After a preliminary overview of crucial concepts, we will contrast and compare philosophical approaches that deal with political violence (Hannah Arendt) and ecological violence (Rob Nixon). We will then proceed with various novel excerpts (made available via ILIAS) and read three novels in full length: Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), T.C. Boyle’s A Friend of the Earth (2000), and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future (2020). One slot in the syllabus will be reserved for discussing a film (Pale Rider) or a video game (Final Fantasy VII), we can collectively decide on what to focus on in the first session.

Completion of the basic module in literary studies is expected.


Further information for students of the University of Cologne: Klips