This research cluster brings together faculty and graduate students to consider the provocations and implications of the Anthropocene thesis for the humanities. This controversial term—literally a “new human age”—seeks to define, both conceptually and geologically, the radical transformation of earth systems due to human activity. The Anthropocene calls on humanities scholars to think not only beyond period and national boundaries, but beyond the human as well, cultivating scientific literacy and numeracy in order to consider the historical and political agency of nonhuman actors, ranging from animals and forests to ice caps and methane. It also invites debates involving scientists and a broad public audience in questions of humanistic inquiry.
This cluster hosts a speaker series featuring prominent scholars working on the Anthropocene question, as well as a reading group engaging current research into the Anthropocene origins, causes, and consequences. Field excursions to sites such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the Eliot Bay seawall project in Seattle provide further opportunities to think about post-industrial landscapes as sites of ecological renewal and community resilience.