Historical Ecologies: Research Workshop on Nature, Capitalism, and Law

History 285D.001

Fall 2017
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 2-4
Class Number: 

This research workshop guides graduate students through the process of framing, researching, and writing an original, article-length paper in the field of environmental history, broadly construed. Students from all fields are welcome, but the workshop will be especially helpful for those working on topics that directly engage the historical relations among capitalism, law, and nature since 1492 and the Columbian Exchange. These include the changing place of non-human animals in society and the social imaginary; the rise and crisis of “cheap nature” and the distinctive modes of governance to which cheap nature gave rise; law’s role in naming, claiming, and ordering the natural world; anthropogenic environmental change; the advent of industrial, urban, and suburban ecosystems; the making, unmaking, and privatization of various commons; and the discursive (including legal but also literary, visual, and scientific) construction of distinctive spaces such as “the wilderness,” “the high seas,” “the hinterland,” and “the rust belt." For any topics or subfields in which I have limited or no expertise, I will consult with the relevant colleagues in History and other departments. The first two weeks of class will be devoted to reading articles on select themes in environmental history as a means of modeling a range (by no means exhaustive) of research and narrative strategies. We’ll then discuss how to refine your research topic and write a brief research prospectus. From there, class will be run as a workshop in which we’ll read and comment upon each other’s prospectuses and drafts.