GGR196H1: Tracking Insect Life: The Political Ecology of “Bugs”


Have you wondered why we find a ladybug ‘picturesque’ but a cockroach ‘disgusting’? Have you thought of butterflies as feminine and sublime, and bees as an army? Have you ever received advice in your workplace or school to avoid behaving like a ‘mosquito,’ meaning to resist engaging in micro-aggressive conducts? Have you been curious about why the film industry created an enlarged half human/half ant ‘alien’ creature to feed our worst fears? This course engages with these and other contradictory and complex renderings of insects in Western culture and around the world to investigate how we define the limits of social belonging in relation to space and place. The course explores how the anxieties and wonders around insects’ behaviour are related to aspects of the human/nature relationship. By tracking the political ecology of insects, the course provides a first approximation to arguments about the connection between nature and culture and “lived-in” environments; also exploring themes of class, gender, race and settler colonialism. Because this is a first-year seminar, reading and engaging actively with the course material is important for this course.

The course also serves as an introduction to other subjects that are relevant to navigating post-secondary life, such as: critical reading; conducting university-level research; presenting and communicating ideas in the classroom; teamwork; and how to benefit from it; and developing social networks.

Restricted to newly admitted first-year students. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.

Distribution Requirements: 
Social Science
Breadth Requirements: 
Society and its Institutions (3)