Teaching the Energy Humanities

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012


During the 2011-12 academic year, a group of twenty-one undergraduate fellows at Rice’s Humanities Research Center worked with anthropology graduate student Marcel LaFlamme to develop a preliminary framework for a new course on the energy humanities, to be taught at Rice in spring 2013. The resulting document [PDF] draws on conversations with the distinguished lecturers who visited Rice over the course of the year, but also ventures further afield: looking back to Aristotle’s first formulation of energeia and ahead to fictional dystopias like that of Iranian novelist Reza Negarestani.

“No single source agreed with our methodology,” one of the undergraduate fellows acknowledged. “We heard from experts whose opinions contradicted both our own work and the work of other scholars in the field. But that doesn’t mean that the energy humanities are a hopeless mess. Rather, it just means that we, as a rising generation of humanists, have had a rare opportunity to offer our own intervention.” Congratulations to everyone involved, and we hope that this document will serve as a resource and flashpoint for conversation among humanities scholars at other institutions who are turning their attention to energy and environmental issues.