Ivy League course: “Feminist Theory for a Heated Planet”

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Brown University in Rhode Island is offering a fall course called “Feminist Theory for a Heated Planet.”

The course description claims that “The ecological crises – the ‘sixth extinction,’ ‘global warming,’ ‘the eruption of Gaia’ – have forced many humans to challenge contingent boundaries drawn in more or less compelling ways in the Western world.”

The course will teach students about how feminists have been critical of the idea that man is to rule over nature.

“When geologists came up with a new epoch called the ‘Anthropocene,’ feminist theory was well equipped to problematize this allegedly omnipotent ‘anthropos’,” the course description explains.

According to Merriam Webster, anthropocene is a theory which considers human beings to be “the most significant entity in the universe.”

“Dualisms opposing nature to culture, the human and the nonhuman, the natural and the technological, the feminine and the masculine, seem more destabilized than ever,” the class description adds.

Course textbooks include “Exposed Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times” by Stacey Alaimo, “In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism” by Isabelle Stengers, and “Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene” by Donna J. Haraway.

“Reciprocally, queer, post-colonial, and feminist theories have re-thought the never so normative, hardly stable, greatly unknown, nature of nature,” the description concludes.

The course will be taught by Dr. Claire Simone Monique Brault, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Political Science and Cogut Center for the Humanities.

According to the Cogut Center for the Humanities website, Dr. Brault ‘s work “draws from a number of disciplines and interdisciplinary fields:  Environmental Political Theory, Feminist Theory, Feminist Science and Technology Studies, Ecocriticism.”

Her book project examines “temporality and the current ecological crises, studying a variety of texts from environmentalist science fiction, to contemporary dance and circus, as well as climate science.  She argues that capitalist temporalities, though often contradictory (acceleration, continuous progress, crisis), share a utopian or ‘uchronian’ dimension as they constantly postpone the ‘good time’ of endless abundance to an actually impossible future, given our planet’s limited resources.”

As a result, Dr. Brault argues that “capitalist times” are “dangerous and destructive” and that society must “go beyond utopia” “by asking what alternative, eco-temporalities are possible or already in existence?”

It is unclear if Dr. Brault’s criticisms of capitalism will be included in the “Feminist Theory for a Heated Planet” course as Dr. Brault declined to speak with Red Alert Politics in time for publication.

According to the Brown University course website, this class has a capacity of twenty students, and currently has six students enrolled.


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