Studies: Literature & Culture: Elemental Love in an Era of Climate Change

In this Studies in Literature and Culture course, we will focus on hopeful narratives of climate change in order to engage in cultural studies approaches to global conditions. The texts I have selected foreground human relationships with the elements, often through narratives of love, whether it is be romantic love for a girl who can control the elements, the love for elements who are ancestors, or love between the elemental forms themselves that bring about natural phenomena like the formation of clouds. Through reading these texts, we will engage in a cultural studies approach that locates these narratives in the material and political contexts in which they are written and read: the movements of Pacific Islanders against climate change, the COP 26 meeting in Glasgow, the Black Lives Matter movement and Afrofuturism, and land stewardship training to read mele and oli (song and chant) in Hawaiʻi in ways that teach us to assess, adapt, and activate ourselves in relation to changes in the natural world. We will explore the power of these narratives to bring about an epistemological shift that can help us to see that seemingly catastrophic climate change events can be possibilities for renewed abundance.


Course texts may include

Moses Manu, Keaomelemele (1884).

Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa, trans. A Legendary Tradition of Kamapuaʻa, the Hawaiian Pig God (1891)

Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals  


Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Ka Honu Ola: ʻEliʻeli Kau Mai / The Living Earth: Descend, Deepen the Revelation (2011)

Candace Fujikane, Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawaiʻi (2021)

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knolwedge

     and the Teaching of Plants (2013)

Makoto Shinkai, Weathering with You (novel and film) (2019)


Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away (film)  (2001)

Daisuke Igarashi, Children of the Sea (film) (2019)

A reader may include readings by Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Kyle Whyte, Nā Pua Makani Wind industry environmental impact statement, Bruno Latour, Karin Amimoto, Kara Keeling, Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, Donna Haraway, Peter Wohlleben, Kekuhi Kealiikanakaoleohaililani, Naomi Klein, Kohei Saito, Leanna Betasamosake Simpson, Laura Harjo, Emalani Case, Dina Gilio-Whitaker. 


Course Requirements

  • 15-page research project (35%). A creative writing option would allow an 8 page story, and a 12 page critical contextualization of the story.
  • Three-page project proposal with annotated bibliography that will grow into the research project (10%)
  • 3-page paper on a critical problem (15%)
  • One presentation (10%)
  • Short assignments that will become parts of your research project (20%)
  • Peer-editing (5%)
  • Final exam (5%)