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EN368 The Question of the Animal

This module is an option for all Pathways. Term 1, 15 CATS

Module convenor - Dr Jonathan Skinner - J.E.Skinner@warwick.ac.uk
Seminars: Thursday 5-7pm (G.08 Millburn House - The Writers' Room) *Please note: this is a two-hour seminar.*
Office Hours (Term One): Mondays 1.30-2.30pm, Thursdays 3.00-4.00pm (G.01 Millburn House)

Overview

In an age of mass extinction, the meanings of human being and the uses of technology seem drawn into a circle bounded by the question of the animal. Through philosophical, artistic, literary, cultural, religious, and scientific studies, this module focuses on the trouble animals bring to human self-understanding. The investigation proceeds both as an inquiry from within the Western tradition, which locates humanity in an expulsion of the animal, and as an examination of traditions in which the differences between humans and animals are more varied and integrated. Themes include the wild and the tame, meat, religion, animal rights, sex and gender, race, languages, colonialism, companion animals, and animal representations and performances. Discussions focus around cultural cases drawn from literature, the arts, and contemporary media. The seminar aims both to cover some of the history of cultural relations to the animal and to help participants theorize the "animal" in their own engagement with humanist tradition. The seminar thus also includes a basic introduction to "posthumanist" theory, from Heidegger through poststructuralism to systems theory, feminist, postcolonial and science studies.

Assessment

100% assessed:

• Formative:
(1) Weekly 150-word contributions to a group Moodle discussion forum; a portfolio of these contributions is to be submitted at the end of term for assessment (10% of mark).

• Summative:
(1) 1 x 1,500-word essay (due in Week 7 of T1, 30% of mark);
(2) 1 x 3,500-word essay (due by Week 1 of T2, 60% of mark).

Reading List 

Required:

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace (London: Vintage, 1999)
.--. The Lives of Animals (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1999)
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (London: Gollancz, 2007)
Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People and Significant Otherness
(Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003)
Vicki Hearne, Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007)
Linda Kalof and Amy Fitzgerald, eds. The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings
(Oxford: Berg, 2007)
Cary Wolfe, Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2003)

Suggested:

Jacques Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I Am, trans. David Wills (NY: Fordham UP, 2008)
Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature and Culture, trans. Janet Lloyd (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2013)
Clayton Eshleman, Juniper Fuse (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2003)
Bhanu Kapil, Humanimal: A Project for Future Children (Berkeley: Kelsey Street P, 2012)
Mudruroo, Master of the Ghost Dreaming (Sydney: Angus & Robertson Childrens, 1991)
Jacob von Uexküll, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Men (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2010)

(PDF excerpts will be provided for other readings listed in the syllabus.)

Syllabus (by week)

1) TALKING ANIMALS; CHILDHOOD, SEXUALITY, MONSTERS; WILD ANIMALS

Primary: Claude Levi-Strauss, “The Totemic Illusion” (Animals Reader); Andrew Peynetsa, trans. Dennis Tedlock, “The Boy and the Deer” (PDF); Werner Herzog/ Timothy Treadwell, Grizzly Man (film, DVD reserve or online); Ang Lee, The Life of Pi (film clip, in seminar)

Secondary: Brothers Grimm, “Little Red Riding Hood” (versions); Philippe Descola on animism, naturalism, totemism (schematic diagram from Beyond Nature and Culture); Jacques Perrin, Jacques, Michel Debats, Winged Migration (documentary film, DVD reserve or online); Luc Jacquet, March of the Penguins (documentary film, DVD reserve or online)

2) MEAT OR EATING SOULS; RELIGION, ETHICS; ANIMAL LETTERS

Primary: Michael Pollan, “The Ethics of Eating Animals,” The Omnivore's Dilemma (PDF); Carol J. Adams, “The Sexual Politics of Meat” (Animals Reader); Viveiros de Castro, “Cosmological Diexis and Amerindian perspectivism” (excerpt, PDF); Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meat (excerpts, PDF); Eric Rohmer, Summer (film clip, in seminar)

Secondary: Plutarch, “The Eating of Flesh” (Animals Reader); Claude Levi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked (excerpt, PDF); David Abram, “Animism and the Alphabet,” The Spell of the Sensuous (excerpts, PDF); Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep (film, DVD reserve); Gabriel Gudding, Literature for Nonhumans (excerpt, PDF)

3) PREHISTORY, AESTHETICS, ANIMAL ART

Primary: Clayton Eshleman, Juniper Fuse (selections, PDF); Steve Baker, “Sloughing the Human” (Zoontologies); animal poetry: Ted Hughes, “The Thought Fox”; Galway Kinnell, “The Bear”; W.S. Merwin, “Leviathan,” “For a Coming Extinction,” “After the Alphabets,” “The Mole,” “Water Pouring from Clouds” (PDF); Werner Herzog, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams (film clip, in seminar)

Secondary: Paul Shepard, “Introduction,” The Others: How Animals Made Us Human (PDF); Aaron Moe, “‘learning my steps’: Zoopoetics and Mass Extinction in W.S. Merwin’s Poetry,” in Zoopoetics: Animals and the Making of Poetry (PDF); selected visual art (online); Werner Herzog, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams (film, DVD reserve or online)

4) BECOMING ANIMAL

Primary: Deleuze and Guattari, “Becoming-Animal” (Animals Reader); Franz Kafka, “The Metamorphosis” (excerpts, PDF); Julio Cortazar, “Axolotl” (online); Darwin on sexual selection, On the Origin of Species (excerpts, PDF); Phil Stebbing, Animal Tragic (clips, YouTube); Superbowl commercials (clips, YouTube); Marcus Coates, “Dawn Chorus” (YouTube)

Secondary: Alphonso Lingis, "Animal Body, Inhuman Face” (Zoontologies); Ron Broglio, “A Minor Art: Becoming-Animal of Marcus Coates,” Surface Encounters: Thinking with Animals and Art (PDF); Rupert Wyatt, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (film, DVD reserve or online)

5) ANIMAL SUBJECTS, ANIMAL RIGHTS

Primary: J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals; Jeremy Bentham, “Principles of Morals and Legislation” (Animals Reader); Peter Singer, “Animal Liberation or Animal Rights?” (Animals Reader); Tom Regan, “The Rights of Humans and Other Animals” (Animals Reader)

Secondary: Jacob von Uexküll, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Men (PDF); Shaun Monson, Earthlings, Louie Psihoyos, The Cove, and/or Judy Irving, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (documentary films, DVD reserve or online).

7) PERFORMING ANIMALS, ANIMAL SPECTACLES, TRAINING RELATIONSHIPS

Primary: Vicki Hearne, Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name (selections); visit from staff with Leamington Guide Dog Training School 

Secondary: John Berger, “Why Look at Animals?” (Animals Reader); Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk; Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Blackfish (documentary film, DVD reserve or online)

8) THE ENLIGHTENMENT HUMANIMAL

Primary: J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace; Jacques Derrida, “And Say the Animal Responded?” (Zoontologies)

Secondary: Jacques Derrida, “The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)” (PDF); Cary Wolfe, “In the Shadow of Wittgenstein’s Lion: Language, Ethics, and the Question of the Animal” (Zoontologies)

9) SCIENTIFIC ANIMALS, COMPANION ANIMALS, LABORING ANIMALS

Primary: Lynda Birke, “Into the Laboratory” (Animals Reader); Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto; Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Secondary: Donna Haraway, “Introduction,” When Species Meet (PDF); Michael Webber, The Elephant in the Living Room (documentary, DVD reserve or online); Robert Bresson, Au Hasard Balthazar (film, DVD reserve or online)

10) ANIMISM, OTHER TRADITIONS, POSTCOLONIAL ANIMALS

Primary: Mudrooroo, Master of the Ghost Dreaming (PDF); Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature and Culture (excerpts, PDF); Montaigne, “An Apology for Raymond Sebond” (Animals Reader); Erik Blomberg, The White Reindeer (Valkoinen peura) (film, DVD reserve)

Secondary: Bhanu Kapil, Humanimal (excerpts, PDF); Bill Viola, I Do Not Know What It Is I Am Like (video)