From King Arthur to the Brother's Grimm--Animals with Tales
General Catalog Course Title:
English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Terms Offered:
Spring 2011

There is a long-standing tradition of writing that blurs the boundaries between humans and animals. We find animals that speak, are reported to have spoken, or behave like humans. Conversely, humans act like animals, interact with animals, and even turn into animals. This “beast literature” – which includes numerous genres and themes, has lasted from antiquity through the present, and is found even well-beyond the occidental world – appears to have been especially popular during the Middle Ages. For the most part, these anthropomorphic and zoomorphic texts work as satires, metaphors or allegories. Authors have often adopted them for moralizing purposes, but they appear equally effective for exploring even the crudest aspects of sexuality. Such flexibility means that the texts can be unsettling but also light-hearted and fun.  Readings:

The Romance of Reynard the Fox ; Chrétien de Troyes, The Knight of the Lion;  Marie de France, Guigemar; Charles Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots; George Orwell, Animal Farm; Gilles Deleuze, Abécédaire (A: Animal -  Video of interview with English subtitles); Jean Cocteau, La Belle et la bête (DVD); Marie Darrieussecq, Pig Tales:  A Novel of Lust and Transformation. There will be a Course Reader including:  Marie de France, Fables (excerpts); Montaigne, Essays, "On Cruelty"; La Fontaine, Fables (excerpts); Angela Carter,  "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon," in Burning Your Boats

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.