ENG-L 208: The Question of the Animal

Breaking News in English! Do not miss this opportunity to take an exciting new course in English open to all majors and holding CASE A&H designation:
L208: Topics in English and American Literature and Culture

Topic: The Question of the Animal

T/R, 1-2:15pm, Ballantine Hall 331


“… and already the knowing animals are aware that we are not really at home in our interpreted world” (Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies). This course will focus on representations of the animal in modern and postmodern literature and philosophy, along the way raising aesthetic and ethical questions about how humans understand, imagine, value, and interact with other animals. We will consider how writers over the past century and a half have addressed the human/animal divide that historically contrasts the human speaking subject with the (allegedly) mute animal. As we will see, the question of the animal, particularly as it has been thought in the wake of Darwinism and its eagerness to blur categorical distinctions between human and nonhuman animals, challenges us to confront not only the living animal before us but our own sense of what it means to be human as well.

We will read and discuss essays, poetry, and the following books: Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland; Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis; J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals; Mark Doty, The Dog Years; Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto; Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal; and Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am.

Assignments likely will include class participation, two essays, and midterm and final examinations