Caliban and the Witch


Fall 2015 quarter

Taught by

fiction, nonfiction, and contemporary literature
economics, political economy
English literature, theater studies

How can monsters and witches, figured so closely in relation to animals both in being endangered and dangerous, help us think about climate change, the sixth great extinction we are currently undergoing, transition, transformation, and adaptation? How might these – monsters, witches, and climate change – be tied to social movements, political economy, and social change?

This intensive literature, creative writing, and political economy program will take up the above questions and others. Students in this program will learn to read, think, and discourse analytically and will develop creative and critical writing and research skills through the study of contemporary and historical relationships between climate change, inequality, and capitalism. We’ll learn about the changes in the global political economy from the Middle Ages to the present and its implications for daily life. Pivotal concepts will be introduced to analyze the past, the present and possible futures through literary and economic lenses. 

Shakespeare's  The Tempest – whose anti-hero, Caliban, has become a symbol of resistance to colonization – will form a core text. The program title is taken from Silvia Federici's study  Caliban and the Witch, an illuminating analysis of the movements and peoples who had to be suppressed in order to build the foundations of modern capitalism.

Using these two texts as our focal points, students will be introduced to key concepts in Marxist, feminist, economic, and post-colonial theory as well as experimental approaches to contemporary storytelling, including feminist and post-colonial appropriations.  Students will be invited to re-think the political-economic underpinnings of inherited conceptions of space and knowledge.  We'll also consider the dominant role that storms, droughts, shipwrecks, and other disasters have played in canonical and contemporary art, and participate, along with a consortium of other programs in sciences and humanities, in shared curriculum focused on climate change.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

graduate study in the humanities, writing, and theater.

Academic Website

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day and Evening


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
July 13th, 2015 This program will now accept students of all class levels (Freshmen through Seniors).
July 22nd, 2014 Peter Bohmer has joined this program; it is now offered to Freshmen-Sophomores.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 60


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10222
So - Sr (16 credits): 10223

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