Afterworlds in Fiction and Film: Literature, Creative Writing, Film Studies, and Environmental Humanities

Summer 2021 First Session
Olympia
Weekend
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 Credits per quarter
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Taught by

In fiction writing the phrase “falling action” is used to refer to everything that happens after a transformative change. In this timely class we will take ending as a starting point, composing and studying stories that start with, or crest waves of, falling action – that begin, in other words, with endings, or that inaugurate breaks – transformations. Cross-contaminating the technical notion of world-building in science-fiction with the notion of ‘worlding’, first used to describe modes of colonialist territorialization by Gayatri Spivak, later taken up by other theorists to refer to interspecies entanglements, I propose the notion of ‘afterworlding’ for the purposes of this course, to carve out a place to cultivate imaginaries of the after/words, of afterworlds, alternate worlds, liminal limbos, and other worlds, built, imagined, projected out of, and fashioned ‘in the shell of the old’.

The class includes creative writing workshops; film seminar; and philosophical, literary, and ecological inquiry through reading and contemplative practices (to help us develop our powers of awareness, invention, and insight). Participants will practice the kind of ‘afterworlding’ we see in works by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, W. G. Sebald, and Alexander Kluge by means of exercises using fragments, documentary materials, and historical documents. Documentary poetics, then, form one part of our approach. Participants will also explore approaches to composing short stories in the genres of eco-fiction and climate fiction, working somatically and thinking bioregionally. Works likely to be studied include excerpts from Jean-Luc Nancy’s After Fukushima: The Equivalence of Catastrophes (2015) and Byung-Chul Han’s The Scent of Time (2017). Films are likely to include Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life (1998), Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Staulker (1979) among others. Assignments and readings subject to revision and rethinking.

Class meetings include asynchronous and synchronous learning activities from in class writing and small group workshops to screenings and guided meditations. Our class is divided into three segments. We begin class together with discussion on Zoom, are then given exercises and prompts to do autonomously, after which we regroup to share and discuss. Our studies are organized in kinetic phases that allow for embodied, holistic, kinesthetic learning in the context of the pandemic.  I will offer alternative assignments if conditions or illness prevent students from accessing our synchronous meetings. Please feel free to write with questions: mellism@evergreen.edu

 

Registration

Summer 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

First Session (8): 40027

Academic details

Preparatory For

creative writing, cultural criticism, curation, education, cultural studies, comparative literature, film studies, contemplative arts and studies, emergent/trans-disciplinary projects, ecological humanities

Credits
8
Maximum Enrollment
25
Class Standing
Freshman
Sophomore
Junior
Senior

Schedule

Time Offered
Weekend
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

Remote/Online
Location
Olympia