Distinguished Visiting Craig Professor Jan Mieszkowski

Taught in English. No prerequisites.
Crosslisted with Comparative Literature 01:195:314:01

In the modern era, botany and colonialism have been inseparable. With the rise of European imperialism, plants became big business, and their study and cultivation was as much a matter of trade and conquest as scientific inquiry. To create an empire meant remaking ecosystems abroad and at home. Botany has also been a preoccupation of modern artists, poets, and philosophers, who have asked why it is so difficult to represent plants and what it means that flowers are one of the most venerable models of language. In this course, we will explore the intimate relationships between aesthetic and scientific conceptualizations of the plant kingdom from the eighteenth century to the present, looking at works of poetry and prose, photography, and film. We will also consider attempts to envision a post-colonial botany. Authors will include Rousseau, Goethe, Kant, Hegel, Dickinson, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Freud, Rilke, Celan, Mayröcker, Walcott, Kincaid, and Moten.

Fulfills SAS Core Goals AHo, AHp, WCd