Institution: Northeastern University
Instructor: Maura Coughlin
Description: Earth, soil, dirt, property, home, origin, view, landscape: our language belies the many associations we have with land. Rural land has been invested with mythic presence and has seemed to promise authentic, immediate experience to the viewer ever since the Renaissance. In our time of climate collapse and climate activism, studying the visual culture of landscape and ecology has become ever more pertinent. This course offers critical and historical approaches, drawn from the interdisciplinary environmental humanities, to navigate our present ecological condition and offers models of mourning, optimism, hope and change. We will chart a trajectory of landscape and modern experience that will examine the place of landscape, nature and human subjectivity in art, design and visual culture up to the present day. Methods include aesthetic theories of the picturesque, sublime, pastoral, and beautiful as well as recent cultural studies of tourism, colonialism, nostalgia, nationalism, gender, post-humanist, ecofeminist and Indigenous ecological thought. Weekly thematic topics encourage critical examinations of “landscape” and “nature” as capacious genres that can include academic painting, land art, landscape design, biomimicry, performance and land-based contemporary environmental art. This course will appeal to advanced undergraduate and graduate students in art, design, urban planning, environmental humanities and environmental science.
Level: Undergraduate and graduate