Variations on a Global Theme: Stories About Science, Economies, and Environments

HISTORY 103D.007

Fall 2015
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 2-4P
From the Dust Bowl and sport fishing to pesticides and climate change, technocrats have told stories about the human ability to harness technology and improve nature for the benefit of human societies and state projects. How does narrative shape the conveyance, assessment, and reception of information? This course will ask students to consider how academics, bureaucrats, economists, scientists, corporations, and politicians employ rhetorical strategies that reflect ideological assumptions, professional standards, idealism and optimism, and, in some instances, cynicism, secrecy, paranoia, and greed. Students will also analyze the ways that unequal relationships of economic, social, and political power both reflect and actively shape human relationships with natural resources and environmental processes. The course examines case studies primarily focused on the United States, but we will also read environmental histories of Japan, Africa, the Soviet Union and explore broader trends in Global Capitalism and Neo-Liberalism. Agriculture, water, conservation, trade, the expansion of state power over people and resources, nuclear energy, issues of scientific authority, the power of propaganda and influence of media, and economic and environmental justice are core themes structuring readings and in-class discussions.

Course Books

The Conquest of Ainu Lands by Brett L. Walker University of California. ISBN: 978-0520248342 Required
Maize and Grace by James McCann Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978-0674025578 Required
Citizen Coke by Bartow J. Elmore W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN: 978-0393241129 Required
Plutopia by Kate Brown Oxford University. ISBN: 978-0199855766 Required
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway Bloomsbury Press . ISBN: 978-1608193943 Required
Dust Bowl by Donald Worster Oxford University . ISBN: 978-0195174885 Required
An Entirely Synthetic Fish by Anders Halverson Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0300140880 Required
The Organic Machine by Richard White University of Washington . ISBN: 978-0809015832 Required