Seven Cheap Things - An Introduction to World Ecology

Work, nature, care, fuel, food, finance and lives. These seven cheap things make our world and govern our behavior in it. Starting at the dawn of capitalism in the 1400s, this course works through the history of colonialism, international trade, finance, slavery, industrialization, urbanization, ecological change, patriarchy and war. Reading and discussing several key texts and films in ecology and capitalist studies, we'll be able to trace the origins and prospects of 21st century movements for social and environmental change, from the Movement for Black Lives to Occupy to Slow Food to This course will train students to think globally and systemically about policy issues and societal transformation.

Requirements and expectations: Student progress will be evaluated on the basis of (1) weekly responses to reading; (2) a 20-page final research paper on a topic of the student’s choice; (3) class presentations and participation; (4) attendance of an office-hour; (5) the writing of a reference letter.

Readings: The reading load will average a book a week, together with supplementary journal articles. Some weeks will have a little less, but students should expect to spend a considerable amount of time reading, and then writing thoughtful, brief, responses.

Students will be expected to read the following books.

Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism - Revised Edition. London: Verso.

Andrews, Thomas G. 2008. Killing for coal : America's deadliest labor war. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Coulthard, Glen Sean. 2014. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.

Cronon, William. 1991. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Cronon, William. 2003. Changes in the land : Indians, colonists, and the ecology of New England. 1st rev. ed. New York: Hill and Wang.

Davis, Mike. 2001. Late Victorian holocausts : El Nino famines and the making of the third world. London ; New York: Verso.

Frederici, Silvia. 2004. Caliban and the Witch. New York: Autonomedia (on Canvas)

James, C. L. R. 1963. The Black Jacobins; Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. 2d ed. New York: Vintage Books.

Marx, Karl, Ben Fowkes, and David Fernbach. 1990. Capital : a critique of political economy, Penguin classics. London: Penguin Books in association with New Left Review. (selections on Canvas)

Moore, Jason W. 2015. Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. London: Verso. (selections on Canvas)

Morgan, Jennifer L. 2004. Laboring women : reproduction and gender in New World slavery, Early American studies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.