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Group III: Special Topics I

Literature in the Anthropocene

There Is No Planet B. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Mass migration, epic floods, mega-storms, extinctions, scorching fires, drought, plague... Is this a description of some kind of apocalyptic speculative fiction?! No! (Well, yes, but also...) Welcome to the Anthropocene, the geological epoch in which human beings have become the dominant driver of ecological change. This course will introduce you to the concept of the Anthropocene, primarily through its popular renditions in the media. We will then explore some of the primary concerns of the era through the literary texts that, whether explicitly naming the Anthropocene or not, directly contemplate the political, cultural, ethical, and ecological implications of this moment. Texts may include: Karen Tei Yamashita, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest; Amitav Ghosh, Gun Island; Adam Dickinson, Anatomic; Ross Gay, Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude; Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass; and others.


Assessments consist of:

  • Regular and active participation
  • several short response papers
  • one longer paper (including some secondary research)
  • final exam


  • ENGL 200
  • ENGL 290

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.