Inviting Doomsday: US Environmental Problems in the Twentieth Century

Institution: University of Kent

Instructor: John Wills

Description: Condemned by the international community for refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords, rendered powerless by electricity blackouts, and stricken by the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the United States of America is today embroiled in a narrative of environmental controversy and catastrophe. This module explores to what extent the USA has been ‘inviting doomsday’ throughout the modern (twentieth-century) period and beyond. Commencing with an introductory session on writing and researching American environmental history, the module is then split into four sections: Science and Recreation, Doomsday Scenarios, Environmental Protest, and Consuming Nature. Over the twelve weeks we will consider a range of environmental issues that include wildlife management in national parks, pesticide spraying on prairie farms, and nuclear testing in Nevada, and environmental racism. By the end of the module, we will have constructed a comprehensive map of the United States based around themes of ecological transformation, assimilation and decay.

Level: Undergraduate

Timing: Typically taught annually, in the spring term.

Country: United Kingdom

Syllabus: Inviting Doomsday: US Environmental Problems in the Twentieth Century