Topics: Chinese Landscapes of Repair, Past and Present

EALC 10655 Topics: Chinese Landscapes of Repair, Past and Present

“Reduce, remove, repair” has recently been proposed as a strategy through which the devastating effects of climate change and colonialism on earth systems, biodiversity, and human societies  might still be reversed. In this course, we will explore a range of representations and practices related to “repair” in China, thinking about how we might repair our understanding of ourselves and of our relation to the world. Our first task will be to unpack basic concepts--repair, environment, nature, world--in relation to one another. We will consider literary, philosophical, and artistic works that question the notion that humans are separate from nature or the environment, and will study the specific means whereby different literary and visual genres call attention to elements--plants, water, air, earth, humans--in need of repair.

Throughout the course, we will ask the following questions: How do we orient ourselves toward repair as a mode of living? What would our daily life look like—how would it change--if it were guided by the aspiration to repair rather than by the desire to progress, expand, extract, and conquer? What can help generate the wish to repair?

Our materials will include ancient Chinese philosophical and literary texts and landscape paintings; Chinese contemporary literary works, artworks, and documentary films; and theoretical texts in environmental humanities.

Finally, our course will also have a practical component, as we will try to learn about “reparative” projects in Chicago and surroundings and undertake at least two field trips to familiarize ourselves with them.