Graduate Courses

We are actively seeking titles and descriptions of relevent graduate courses from professors at the University of Minnesota for dissemination among interested faculty and graduate students. Please submit course descriptions for upcoming semesters here.

Upcoming courses include:

Spring 2018

ALL 8002 (Readings in New Materialism), with Christine Marran

Recently scholars in a range of disciplines including media and literary studies have developed methods to account for the material world and material dependencies. In this class we will examine how and why these theories are critical of enlightenment humanism, and the relevance of seeking to better account for material reality over and against values associated with the cultural turn, which has privileged discourse and culture over material phenomena. We will analyze modes of critical inquiry that attend to the material world in media and literature (agential realism and speculative realism, among others) and consider how representation is theorized in new materialist thought. Students will develop an understanding of the principal theories and discourses of new materialism and consider how material agencies have been accommodated in these media and literary theories. Authors we will read include and are not limited to Stacy Alaimo, Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Pheng Cheah, Timothy Clark, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Manuel DeLanda, Amitov Ghosh, Michiko Ishimure, Adrian Ivankiv, Eduardo Kohn, Siegfried Kracauer, Quentin Meillasoux, Masao Miyoshi, Timothy Morton, Jussi Parikka, Steven Shaviro, Gayatri Spivak, Sylvia Wynter, and others. Primary texts will include film and literature. This course welcomes graduate students from any department. Required readings will be in English, and students are encouraged to consider the relevance of these methodological approaches to their research agenda and primary materials. 

COMM 4250 (Environmental Communication), with Mark Pedelty

ENGL 8090 (Ecocritical Food Studies), with Dan Philippon

You can’t throw a locally grown, organic, heirloom tomato these days without hitting someone talking about sustainable food. Yet both that tomato and that discourse have histories, and what’s unspoken about each is often as important as what’s said. In this seminar, we will bring together two critical approaches—ecocriticism and food studies—to explore the many dimensions of sustainable food as they appear in a range of literary and cultural texts. Note that this is not just a course about “food in literature” any more than it is a course on “sustainable food systems.” Rather, it is an examination of how all three of these subjects intersect: how a focus on sustainable food can help us understand the relationship between literature, culture, and the environment; how close attention to literary and cultural texts can illuminate current concerns about agriculture, food, and the environment; and how sustainability science can inform the fields of both food studies and literary and cultural studies. To accomplish this, we will read widely in both primary texts and secondary literature, concentrating mainly on food politics in nonfiction prose since World War II, but also examining the historical roots of such concepts as the pastoral, the domestic, and gastronomic pleasure. While our attention will focus mostly on food discourse in Europe and North America, we will also explore the global reach of the industrial food system and the various counter-movements that have emerged in response to it, particularly those that link food justice in the United States to food sovereignty in the Global South. Along the way, we will reference allied concepts—such as postcolonialism, ecomodernism, materiality, animality, and embodiment—as needed. Primary texts will likely include writing and media appearances by Wendell Berry, Carlo Petrini, Julia Child, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Will Allen, Raj Patel, and many others, with secondary reading drawn from across the fields of sustainability studies, ecocriticism, and food studies. Requirements include: attendance and participation, weekly reading responses, leading discussion, a literature review, and a final project on ecocritical food theory and/or practice.

LA 3514/5514 (Making the Mississippi), with Matthew Tucker

The course examines the complex socio-cultural values that are symbolized by and encoded within, the Mississippi River. Through a combination of critical analysis and precedent studies, we will explore historical and contemporary ways this dynamic river landscape has been shaped through geological, hydrological and cultural processes.  In doing so, we will consider how varying cultural and ecological perspectives have shaped our cultural imagination of the river as well as the policies, ecologies and physical forms of the river across time.  Throughout this examination, we will consider the explicit and implied ethical positions encoded in varying perspectives and their impact on the people and places throughout the length of the river.  Finally, we will speculate on potential future scenarios on how the emerging Anthropocene paradigm and other factors may shape and “make” the future Mississippi River. 

LA 8775 (Postnatural Gardens of the Anthropocene), with Matthew Tucker

The garden has the distinct capacity to register and express cultural values and meanings of the environment. In this manner, the garden’s form, material, and experience provide a physical embodiment of the mediation between nature and culture.  However, the Anthropocene and the awareness of human eco-geological agency opens new questions about the future of human relationship to the environment. These are questions of the landscape and the future garden.   

What are the historical conceptions of nature? Of garden tradition? How does the Anthropocene paradigm catalyze new definitions and typologies of a garden? What are the potential new forms, materials, and meanings of the garden in the Anthropocene? These questions and others will guide the work of LA8775 in spring 2018. LA 8775 is a future-oriented graduate research seminar that examines emerging topical issues associated with urbanized ecological infrastructure and systems.  The course provides a forum for students to undertake an advanced self-initiated inquiry into topics central to their research and professional interests.


Fall 2017

GER 3651/5610 (Environmental Thinking), with Charlotte Melin

HSCI 3244/5244 (Nature's History: Science, Humans and the Environment), with Sally Gregory Kohlstedt

PA 5290 Topics in Planning: Environmental Equity (section 3), with Dan Milz

This graduate-level Environmental Equity course will address theory, methods, cases, and engagement.  Advanced undergraduates will be admitted to the course with permission from the instructor.

What do Flint and Standing Rock have in common? While different in many ways, they ultimately represent the most recent examples of how social, cultural, and economic inequalities collide with environmental issues. In such cases, it is often the marginalized and disempowered who bear the greatest environmental costs. The public outcry about Flint and Standing Rock have reinvigorated the global conversation on environmental equity, and this course will be a deep dive into this conversation. Why are patterns of environmental inequity so stubborn? How are environmental costs and benefits distributed across different places and peoples? What can be done to correct current imbalances and to prevent the next Flint, the next Standing Rock? Students will walk away from this course prepared to thoughtfully answer these and other questions about environmental equity.


Summer 2017

LA 5705 (Regreening Minds, Cities, and Regions), with Laura Musacchio


If you will be teaching a graduate course in 2017-18 that you wish to publicize among members of the EHI, please share it with us at