This course is applicable to the English major's Literature & Environment specialization.
Animals are everywhere in our literature: Transcendent birds. Demonic cats. Faithful, dead, or spectral dogs. Hybrid humanimal beast folk. Feral children raised by wolves. Murderous, razor-wielding orangutans. When we begin to consider the ubiquity and complexity of animal representation, we are left to wonder if humans were ever really the only central characters in our literature. This course will serve as a literary introduction to the growing interdisciplinary field of animal studies, which explores the complex interdependent relationships between humans and other animals. We will focus on literary representations of human and nonhuman animality that enrich our understanding of six key areas of concern in the field: animal protection, animal domestication and labor, animal experimentation, animal intelligence and culture, animal captivity, and climate change. We will also question how conceptions of animality have been used to connect humans to or divide humans from the rest of the natural world and to construct social hierarchies based on class, race, gender, or disability. Major texts will include Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, H. G. Wells’s short novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, and J. M. Coetzee’s lectures on The Lives of Animals. Shorter selections from Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace, and others. Film selections from Grizzly Man, Cane Toads, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.