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Cool Course

Course number: GEOG 41195–001

Title: Horror Films and Environmental Geography

Instructor: Emariana Widner, PhD, associate professor of geography

Description: This three-credit-hour course examines environmental philosophies and social awareness of environmental issues through the sci-fi and horror film genres.

Starting with 1954 cult classic Them! and concluding with 2009 sci-fi film The Road, we trace how these films reflect the concerns of the society in which they emerged. 1950s–80s environmental horror films centered around a single issue (nuclear radiation, pollution, consumerism), but modern films tend to be more apocalyptic.

In addition to mainstream films and scientific articles, we watch and discuss short, independent films from the futurestates.tv interactive web series.

Films: Some combination of The Crazies, Gojira, Them!, Wall-E, Frogs, Prophecy, Mimic, Children of Men, The Road

Readings: Have included Rachel Carson, William Baxter, Theo Colburn et al. and Jared Diamond


Purpose: Connect pop culture to our understanding of the environment. The films provoke a reaction that facilitates group interaction and seminar-style discussion.

Outcome: Understanding and discussing various points of view allows students to assess their own values and better understand the complexities of environmental issues.

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