In this course, we will explore the various roles of animals in works of literature and film from the premodern fable to contemporary cinematic and televisual representations of animals. Among other things, we will be investigating the idea of literature as a space through which our relationship to the nonhuman world is mediated, the role of animals and animal metaphors in both stabilizing and destabilizing the meaning or “moral” of a text, and the ways in which literature and film pose the question of our ethical obligation (or lack thereof) towards nonhuman animals.
The primary goal of this class is to improve your writing. We will concentrate on mechanics and style, learning how to read closely, formulate interesting arguments, gather evidence, and organize claims into persuasive essays. Course assignments will include a minimum of 32 pages of writing divided among a number of short essays and culminating in a final research paper. This course fulfills the second half of the university’s R&C requirement.
Book list: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, JM Coetzee, Disgrace; Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles;Jean de la Fontaine, Fables; Vicki Hearne, Adam’s Task; Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (film); DH Lawrence, The Fox; Akira Mizuta Lippit, Electric Animal; Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Virginia Woolf, Flush. All titles subject to change.