This summer, our HIVES Co-founders will each be teaching a section of IAH 207 (Literatures, Cultures, Identities). Each class will weave disability studies into its interdisciplinary offerings. In the first half of the summer, Jessica will be teaching IAH 207 Section 792: (un)Natural Disasters and in the second half of the summer, Michael will be teaching IAH 207 Section 791: Anxieties of the Mutant Future. The posters are included here for MSU students who might be interested in being a part of these classes!
[Image description for attached poster: Above and below the course description are photos of natural and/or unnatural disasters. There’s lightning striking a city scape at night, there’s a garbage dump with a lush forest behind it, there’s an oil barge, there’s a forest fire, and there’s smoke billowing from a factory.]
IAH 207 Section 792
What is (un)natural about a hurricane? Its causes? Its impacts?
This class questions the complexity of what “nature” means conceptually and how it’s mobilized in social and cultural contexts. Throughout the course, we will reflect on disaster movies, literature, current events, and cultural theory to sift through multiple, conflicting definitions of nature. These complexities, in turn, will be used to question how concepts such as race, sex, gender, and ability have been shaped in American culture through their relationships to the natural. In this course, we will consider who has been labeled “natural” or “unnatural” at different points in the history of the Americas, and we will analyze the consequences of these categories. Finally, we will connect so-called natural disasters to their sometimes-human origins and their disproportionate impacts. By the end of the course, you will be prepared to articulate the ways in which cultural practices around nature change climates: both political and meteorological.
[Image description for attached poster: The background of the poster shows a black-and-white photograph of a nuclear explosion, showing a characteristic mushroom-shaped cloud. In the bottom panel of the image are four wedges of images, each showing a different form of bug-eyed monster. Some sport tentacles, others have articulable lizard-like legs]
Anxieties of the Mutant Future
IAH 207 Section 791
What is the deep cultural significance of bug-eyed monsters? Invading aliens? Uncontrollable mutants?
To answer these questions and more, we will turn to the flashy covers and crumbling pages of US pulp fiction. When stories are pumped out en masse for quick sale, they rely on easy metaphors, enough surprise to shock without scaring away too many people, and relevance to the latest news stories and trends. In this course, we will follow the rise of atomic power from the end of the Roaring Twenties into the second World War through the predictive and reflective genre of the science fiction pulp magazine. Reading between their lurid covers and among their questionable advertisements, we will analyze fictions and speculations of the time, decoding scientific, racial, and cultural anxieties of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.