Course Detail

195:240: Animals and Humans

  • SAS Core Requirement: AHp

This course will explore literary works that juxtapose animals with humans, with some attention to autobiographical accounts of human relations with animals, and to visual materials such as fictional and documentary films, paintings, and sculptures. We will raise these questions: How and why do humans imagine animals as symbols of human moral qualities? How and why do males, in particular, imagine animals transforming into females as threats to their gendered nature as well as to patriarchal society? How and why do humans imagine themselves as animals, and animals as themselves? How does the human imagining of animals as irrelevant, lovable, or dangerous complicate the definition of both human and animal? What do human animals owe non-human animals? In reflecting on these questions we will analyze animal trickster fables from Ghana, India, Native America, and Joel Chandler Harris’ retellings of African-American animal tales; medieval stories of divine transformative animals; Native American oral narratives and Northwest Coast Native American sculpture and paintings; the metamorphosis narratives The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and Pig Tales by Marie Darrieusecq; Chinese stories of snake-women and fox-women; stories by Kafka and Tolstoy with clever animal narrators; and Li Ang’s eco-feminist story “The Butcher’s Wife” and its film adaptation Woman of Wrath.

Required reading:

The Metamorphosis. Translated by Stanley Corngold. ISBN#10-0553213695

Pig Tales. ISBN#10-1565843614.

All other readings available via Sakai