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CCHU9033 - Countries of the Mind: Texts that Shape the World
Instructor(s)
Tutors: Ms Maggie Leung; Ms Jennifer G Simon
Semester
2020-2021 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Wednesday , 2:30 pm - 4:20 pm , Online Teaching
Prerequisite
None. This is a Common Core course.

This course explores how literature and film inform the ways we understand, imagine, and relate to the surrounding world.  How might we change our relation to place, space, feeling, and thought in relationship to the local and global environment?  We will travel, together, through several examples of how the countryside, wilderness, and the city have been depicted historically in literature and film, as well as ways in which we now enter the surrounding world via climate concerns, posthumanism, and digital culture.

 

Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the function of literary representation as both shaped by concrete situations and shaping responses to such situations.
  2. Analyze and compare different conventions and strategies in the representation of place in literature and explain their significance in relation to environmental attitudes and values.
  3. Distinguish between different concepts and representations of the environment and point out their historical relationships to material and imaginary uses of places.
  4. Identify key issues in eco-criticism and trace their histories across different cultural traditions.
  5. Recognize distinct imaginary and institutional environments constituted by literature and engage in arguments about their relevance to society.

 

Study Load

Activities

Number of hours

Lectures

24

Tutorials

10

Fieldwork

16

Reading/Self-study

40

Film Viewing

 8

Weekly journal (200 words x 10)

20

Timed mid-term test

2

Local environment responses (choice of format)

20

Total:

140

 

Assessment

100% coursework

Assessment Tasks

Weighting

Weekly journal (Critical analysis of weekly topic; 200 words each; for 10 weeks; total 2000 words)

25

Midterm timed writing assignment (100-minute timed essay; March 17th: 14:30-16:20)

25

City fieldwork (Individual analysis of and response to human/city interaction based on city fieldwork)

25

Rural fieldwork (Individual analysis of and response to human/rural/park interaction based on rural fieldwork)

25

 

Course Content and Topics

    1. Nature, wild and wilderness
    2. Countryside – pastoral and picturesque
    3. The idea of the city
    4. Postmodern space and place
    5. Environmentalism and the Anthropocene
    6. Public and private worlds in a pandemic

 

Required Reading and Film Viewing

On The Beach. Nevil Shute. https://www.fadedpage.com/showbook.php?pid=20131214

The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City. Ed. Jeremy Tambling. London, United Kingdom : Palgrave Macmillan, published by Springer Nature 2016. (Online access HKUL.)

Short stories: two or three short stories will be provided in Moodle.

Newspaper articles about SARS-CoV-2 and the environment will be provided in Moodle.

Films: Erin Brockovich; The Day After Tomorrow; Rabbit-proof Fence; Whale Rider

Poems: a selection of poems (provided in Moodle)

Excerpts from A Journal of the Plague Year (Daniel Defoe) (provided in Moodle)

 

Additional Course Information

The course will focus on two areas:

  1. the negative side of humans' experience with and impact on the earth. Our texts will include Shute's novel On The Beach, the films Erin Brockovich and The Day After Tomorrow, poems by William Blake, texts about Covid-19 and the pandemics which preceded it, including excerpts from Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (you will be amazed by the similarities between Covid-19 and the great plague of 1655), and the speeches of Greta Thunberg;
  2. humankind's positive relationship with the world, with countries, cities, and nature, and the differences between modern and indigenous human-earth interaction, including poems by William Blake (again — he wasn't all negative) and Robert Frost, the films Rabbit Proof Fence and Whale Rider, plus two or three short stories.

Students should read the novel On The Beach by Nevil Shute before the course begins. This is freely available at https://www.fadedpage.com/showbook.php?pid=20131214. It is a story of fiction, set in Australia, of what the end of the world might look like a year after a nuclear holocaust. It will take about 6-8 hours of the 40 hours reading time (depending on your reading speed; it's longer than a novella, but shorter than, for example, the first Harry Potter novel). Other written texts and films will be available in Moodle or through HKUL.

You will spend two days researching areas in and/or around your own environment: (1) one day in a city environment (perhaps a street market; perhaps a swanky shopping mall; the choice is yours); (2) one day in a more rural environment (maybe one of Hong Kong's trails or parks; maybe one of the outlying islands). Be sure to take photos as you go! You could think about spending 2 days riding around on Hong Kong's buses, experiencing both city and countryside. Each experience will result in an assignment cataloguing your analysis of and response to what you witnessed, as it relates to the learning outcomes of the course. This can be in the form of a podcast, a video journal, or written reflections. If you opt for a written response, it should be 2 short essays (800 words each). You can, of course, include any photos you take on your outings, and you can analyse both positive and negative aspects of the human/earth relationship. If you do either podcasts or videos, they should be about 8-10 minutes each, one for city and one for countryside.

Having chosen your medium, you do not have to use the same for both responses: you might, for example, prefer a written response to the city and a video response to the countryside. You can also, if you wish, combine your response: for example, do one long essay (1600 words), or a single podcast or video of 15-20 minutes. You must equally cover both city and country in the long piece.

The two days of data gathering will be done in your own time, but must be completed by the end of Reading Week. You will work on your response to your fieldtrips in the second half of the course. (Details will be given in the syllabus.)

You must select one of your "city" photos and one of your "rural" photos for your midterm assignment, so take some good ones! You will need to upload these two photos into the midterm assignment place in Moodle before the test time, and you will receive instructions as to what you need to write about at 14:25, March 17th.

You can, of course, do the fieldtrip with one or two classmates, but each student must write his/her own response to the experience. This is not "group work." Even with 2 of you doing a fieldtrip together, I would expect the responses to be quite different. No two of us see the world around us in quite the same way.

This course is a computer and mobile free zone. In principle, computers, cell phones, smartphones, and other electronic devices are prohibited during tutorials, since, in this course we will be practicing the art of being actively present, observing, listening, speaking and participating together in the tutorial activities. You are encouraged to bring a notebook for taking notes during the tutorials.

 

Attendance

Attendance is required at all tutorials. If you are absent for medical reasons, please do not send in a medical certificate. That is your private information. All absences, for whatever reason (medical appointment, a day at the beach, etc.) will be treated equally. If you miss a class, you must make up for the missed content/work but completing an additional writing assignment covering the missed material; this must be completed and submitted through Moodle within 7 days of the missed tutorial. The assignment will take about the same amount of time as the missed class (i.e. 50 minutes). If you do not complete the make-up work, marks will be deducted from your course total assessment, 2% for every absence.

All lectures will be online, and available the weekend before the schedule "lecture" time. They will consist of five 20-minute sections. A section might be a powerpoint with voice-over or a film clip. You will not be able to respond to the journal question without having worked through the lectures, so successful completion of the journal (i.e. at least a C grade) will constitute "attendance."

 

Syllabus

The full syllabus will be available in Moodle by August 5th.


Instructor(s)
Tutors: Ms Maggie Leung; Ms Jennifer G Simon
Semester
2020-2021 Second Semester
Credits
6.00
Contact Hours per week
3
Form of Assessment
100% coursework
Time
Wednesday , 2:30 pm - 4:20 pm , Online Teaching
Prerequisite
None. This is a Common Core course.