Autumn 2015

HUM-fag: Climate|Culture|Catastrophe: An introduction to the (palaeo)environmental humanities 


Climate change and natural hazards affect cultures worldwide. Contemporary media are saturated with images and debates of climate change and climate catastrophe. Against this backdrop, this course focuses on the contribution of different Humanities disciplines (archaeology, anthropology, rhetoric, theology, literature and media studies, history of science, etc.) to these issues, especially in a deep historical perspective. This course offers an introduction to the emerging field of Environmental Humanities – with a particular temporal or ‘palaeo’ twist. This course’s primary learning goal is to provide you with critical and reflexive knowledge on how deep and shallow history are part of present-day issues and debates of climate change and catastrophe. We will explicit address the contributions of different fields from within the Humanities to contemporary debate; in this course you will learn how cultures widely different in space and time have been affected by natural hazards and climate change, how they have reacted to them, and how they have variously coped or failed to do so. We will throughout reflect on how these historical case studies are being used in contemporary discourse on climate, catastrophe and societal collapse. Finally, the course will ask: Can we use history in facing the uncertain future?


Further information please see here.

Timetable and room can be found here.

Autumn 2014

PhD course: Crisis! Cultural responses to collapse, conflict and emergency


It may seem rather opportunistic to address the theme of crisis in the light of recent and on-going conflicts, disasters, climatic changes, and financial recessions. These are all frequently referred to as a form of crisis. Yet, these circumstances make it even more interesting – indeed pressing – to address and to understand crises, catastrophic changes, and systemic and community collapse in the past. No doubt, crises did occur in the past, and a nuanced view on such episodes may allow us to better understand past societies, whilst at the same time adding fresh perspectives on contemporary predicaments in nature and society.


The aim of this PhD seminar is to provide research fellows with the opportunity to present aspects of their research related to some form of crisis, to explore human responses to crises, and to discuss how cultural factors influence the understanding of a crisis. The seminar therefore welcomes presentations by PhD students exploring crises broadly, for instance in terms of environmental factors, economy, epidemics, conflict, social and cultural continuity or change, but also through more theoretical approaches, such as phenomenological perspectives on crises or via theories of affect and emotion.


The seminar thus seeks to address crises from a variety of angles: How can socio-cultural continuity and/or change be understood in relation to, say, large-scale, rapid changes in the environment or the economy? What role do perceptions of risk, fear and anxiety, for instance, play in cultural responses to a real or perceived crisis? How can central terms such as vulnerability and resilience be handled and analysed archaeologically/historically? And how are we to appreciate – conceptually and empirically – the varied and varying temporalities of collapse, given that some are the result of processes unfolding over decades or centuries, while others are immediately emergent?