RGST 147: Video Games & the American Environmental Imagination
- Spring 2021: Wednesdays 11:50am-1:50pm
- In what ways are video games shaped by historical memory and the environmental past? How do they draw on American ideas about wilderness and nature from the colonial period to the present? In this course, students will explore the history of four distinct environmental imaginations—“cursed wilderness,” “the romantic forest,” “silvicultural imperialism,” and “arboreal apocalypse”—in order to identify how each resonates in modern video games. Relying on sermons, paintings, nature essays, music, and other primary source materials, students will analyze Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2, Firewatch and other games in an effort to identify how the American encounter with nature has shaped digital representations of the environment.
History 190: Darwin and Science in America
- Fall 2017: 9am-9:50am M,W,F
- This course explores the development and reception of Darwin’s theory of evolution from the publication of On the Origin of Species (1859) to present debates
about scientific determinism. We will cover familiar topics such as social Darwinism and creationism, but the course focuses on developments in the history of science and philosophy. Darwin posed hard questions for many Americans. If chance variation determined the survival value of an organism, what did this say about human consciousness and free will? Could humans determine their own fate, or was it predetermined by the laws of science? Does evolutionary theory necessarily entail a reductive understanding of consciousness, suggesting the complexities of mind, human behavior, and cultural values are explainable in terms of brain chemistry and neurological processes?
- HIS 190 Syllabus
History 194: Rethinking Nature: Environmentalism in the 20th-Century United States
- Summer 2017
- What is nature? What is environmentalism? This course will explore how Americans have answered these questions in the 20th century. We will consider the work and ideas of urban reformers, farmers, scientists, radical activists, and public intellectuals among others as we probe how Americans invented and reinvented the concepts of environment, natural, and unnatural. By incorporating films, music, art, and field trips to local parks, this class will provide students with a rich knowledge base in American cultural and intellectual history. Finally, a deep understanding of American environmental ideas will allow us to think critically about contemporary environmental problems and their implications for philosophy and policy.