Writing Seminars: Animals, Animality, and the Human

Can the study of animal minds and bodies reveal what makes us uniquely human? Authors have long attempted to answer this question: René Descartes imagined “animal machines,” devoid of thought or physical sensation, Jeremy Bentham claimed that, in our treatment of animals, “the question is not, Can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer,” and Jane Goodall unearthed the social and psychological complexity of our primate relatives. This course continues the investigation by asking how we should understand the ties between our own experiences and those of the pets, livestock, and wild animals that inhabit our world. We will examine the boundaries between the animal and the human in order to explore how these relationships inform contemporary social, political, and cultural issues. Questions under discussion might include: how have animals been used to explain the nature of human consciousness? How do animals provide us with food, labor, entertainment, or comfort—and what do we owe them in return? How have conceptions of animality been linked to constructions of race, gender, and sexuality? And how could the prospect of climate change, mass extinction, or food insecurity transform the bonds between humans and animals in the future?


Students who wish to enroll in this seminar should participate in online preregistration, December 7 at 9:00 a.m. - January 9 at 5:00 p.m.

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TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm