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Summer school in environmental humanities

Explore literature and culture as a venue for developing thought about environmental issues within the broad framework of environmental humanities

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CIVIS focus area
Climate, environment and energy
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Phd
Field of studies
  • Social Science and humanities
  • CIVIS Hub 1
Course dates
19-20 May & 13-17 June 2022

For the last two decades, the concept of the Anthropocene has reverberated powerfully across the arts and humanities. Faced with the gravity of the unfolding planetary environmental crisis, scholars and artists have turned their attention to Paul Crutzen’s and Eugene Stoermer’s influential neologism. An inspiration for creative practice, the Anthropocene has also served as a transdisciplinary vector for the emergent framework that links comparative literature, critical theory and modern languages. Earth scientists and bioscientists have become increasingly attentive to political, economic and cultural structures, in a manner that cuts across established disciplinary boundaries. Similarly, artists have focused on natural processes that are affected by human activities and impinge upon them: extreme weather events, rising sea levels, pollution, mass extinction, and so on. In the literary domain, this has included a flurry of new genres and modes: ecopoetry, climate elegy, environmental satire, the New Weird, the cartonera movement and, of course, cli-fi, which has gained popularity as a commercial genre since 2013. As novelist Amitav Ghosh has famously pointed out, “the climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of the imagination”. We will explore these issues in a virtual, intercollegiate and collaborative seminar and an intensive summer school in Rome.

Main topics addressed

  • Literature since 2000: global production, translation and cross-cultural reception of genres and texts
  • Early modernity and environmental concerns
  • Ecological and ‘green’ issues in a historical perspective
  • World literature and globalization
  • World literature as a dynamic site of transdisciplinary inquiry and cultural and political activism
  • Climate justice
  • The apocalyptic imagination
  • Ecopoetry and ecopoetics
  • The planetary age and the global south

Learning outcomes

The course is designed to allow participants to gain useful background knowledge about the epistemological shifts involved in 're-thinking' human action in terms of sustainability for the future.

It calls attention to the vulnerability and value of human and non-human life on a warming planet, and suggests that the climate emergency must be understood as a dynamic opening: an invitation to re-think categories of place and space, not in terms of eschatological closure, but as a state of protracted uncertainty that necessitates and activates new political, artistic and epistemic modes.

Location: Rome, Italy ECTS: 6* 
Language: English (C1) Format: Blended
Contact point: N° of CIVIS scholarships: 16
Contact hours: 30 hours Student workload: 60-150 hours

*The recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

This CIVIS course consists of a 2-days online seminar and 1 week of classes in Rome.

A maximum of 16 international CIVIS students will be accepted in the course in a total of 32 students.


This CIVIS course is open to third-year Bachelor's students as well as Master's and PhD students from CIVIS Universities and from any field relevant to the topic.

A C1 level of English is required. 

Schedule of the course

Virtual seminars (19 - 20 May 2022)

  • Two afternoon sessions

In person course at Sapienza University (13 - 17 June 2022)

  • 4 days morning session (10:00 to 13:00 CET)
  • Afternoon session (15:00 to 17:00 CET)
  • One outdoor activity on the final day

Application process

Interested students should send their CV and a motivational letter by 15 April 2022, stating their interest in the course as well as any prior relevant experience in this field of study. 

Students will be evaluated based on their CV and the strength of their motivational letter.

Selected students will be notified by 30 April 2022.


Production of final essay, paper, artwork, or research project for students whose universities award credits for the activity.

GDPR Consent

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  • Franca Bellarsi is an associate professor at the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). Her research and publications are equally divided between the Beat Generation (with a focus on Allen Ginsberg), ecocriticism and ecopoetics, and English Romanticism (in particular William Blake). In the field of ecocriticism, she has, to date, guest-edited four special issues (“Poetic Ecologies,” Online Journal of Ecocriticism (JoE) 1.2 (2009); “Poetic Ecologies”: Special Issue of the Journal of Comparative American Studies (CAS) 7.2 (2009), print; “Ecospirit: Religion and Environment,” Ecozon@, European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment 2. 2 (2011); and, in co-edition with Judith RAUSCHER, “Toward an Ecopoetics of Randomness and Design,” Ecozon@ 10.1 (2019).
  • Stefan Helgesson is a professor of English at Stockholm University. His research interests include southern African literature in English and Portuguese, Brazilian literature, postcolonial theory, translation theory and theories of world literature. He is the author Transnationalism in Southern African Literature (2009), editor of volume four of Literary History: Towards a Global Perspective(2006), co-editor of Institutions of World Literature: Writing, Translation, Markets (2016) and co-author (with Mads Rosendahl Thomsen) of Literature and the World (2020). His latest book is Decolonisations of Literature: Critical Practice in Africa and Brazil after 1945 (2022).
  • Florian Mussgnug is a professor of comparative literature and Italian studies at University College London. He is the academic director of the UCL cities partnerships programme in Rome. His research interests focus on modern and contemporary literature in Italian, English and German, speculative fiction, posthumanism, and narratives of catastrophe and global existential risk. His latest publications include Human Reproduction and Parental Responsibility: Theories, Narratives, Ethics (2021, with S. Corso and V. Sanchini), Rethinking the Animal-Human Relation (2019, with S. Bellin and K. Inston), The Good Place: Comparative Perspectives on Utopia (2014, with Matthew Reza).
  • Iolanda Plescia is an associate professor of English at Sapienza Università de Roma and the current director of the international MA programme in English and Anglo-American studies. Among her research interests are stylistics, the history of the English language, the history of Italian-English translation, literary translation, with special regard to the early modern age and the twentieth century. Among her contributions in translation are Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida and The Taming of the Shrew (Feltrinelli, 2015, 2019). She is co-editor of 'Elizabeth I in Writing: Language, Power and Representation in Early Modern England', Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.