Introduction to Place Studies

033:080:SCA, Literature, Science, and the Arts
 Time & Location: 3:30P - 4:45P MWF E132 AJB

INSTRUCTORS
Thomas Dean, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Literature, Science, and the Arts;  Special Assistant to the President
Benjamin Hunnicutt, Professor of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and Leisure Studies

 

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This course will introduce students to the concept of “place” from environmental (natural and built), social, and cultural perspectives.  Students will study intercultural, interdisciplinary, and historical concepts of place; the state of place in contemporary societies and cultures; and, as practical application, the elements of place in Midwestern experience.

“Place studies” is an emerging interdisciplinary area, recognizing the centrality of natural, built, social, and cultural environments in the formation of individual, group, and communal identity, as well as the ways in which human beings interact with the world.  Although “place” is grounded in local geography, it is also the ground from which humans connect with virtually everything else.  Lawrence Buell in Writing for an Endangered World:  Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond (2001) describes “tenticular radiations,” that is, relationships that radiate out from specific places in time, space, and imagination—geographical, economic, historical, fictive and virtual, migratory, and so forth.  Understanding one’s place, then, involves understanding global ecosystems and economics just as much as the local landscape and community history.  The excitement and innovation of place studies flow from the interactions and interconnections between these seemingly disparate elements, as well as the new elicited understandings about humanity and the environments in which it exists.           

The course will be discussion-oriented.  Course assignments and grading will include class participation, a midterm and a final, and four short papers.  One of the papers will ask students to connect with our local community or region in some way, such as a paper on local history and culture or a service assignment.

 

Questions?  Please contact Thomas Dean at thomas-k-dean@uiowa.edu, 335-1995.