English | Intro Writing and Study of Literature
L142 | 6969 | Gayk


Intro Writing and Study of Literature
ENG L142-6969

TOPIC: Ethical Animals

Lecture:
6969     MW   11:15a-12:05p     TV 251    Gayk

Discussion:
6970     TR   10:10a-11:00a     TBA
11239    TR   10:10a-11:00a     SE 240
6971     TR   11:15a-12:05p     SY 022
6972     TR   11:15a-12:05p     BH 221
6973     TR   12:20p-1:10p      SY 105

From Aesop's Fables to Orwell's Animal Farm, writers have often used
animals to reflect on human customs, relationships, communities, and
ethics. Animal literature, in other words, frequently serves as a
way of reflecting on what it means to be human. But what is at stake
in anthropomorphizing animals? What do we both gain and lose when we
represent animals with human characteristics? Moreover, how does
literature construct the relationships between humans and animals?
What can animal literature teach us about our representational
modes? What can it teach us about ourselves?

In this course we will take up these questions as we read a variety
of animal literature and consider the various genres used to give
voice to animals (allegory, fable, parable, polemic). We will begin
our discussion of why we use animals to tell human stories by
reading The Life of Pi. In the first unit, we will examine the
allegorical use of animals to reflect on personal ethics, reading
works such as Aesop's Fables, images from the medieval bestiary,
other early beast fables, poetry by Henryson, Blake, Dickenson and
others, and the human-to-animal transformations in Ovid's
Metamorphosis. Next we will consider why speaking animals are often
found in children's literature. Readings in the unit might include
The Jungle Books, The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe, and/or Charlotte's
Web. In the remainder of the course we will consider texts in which
animals serve as mouthpieces of social critique, reflection, and
resistance, readings novels (Animal Farm, Watership Down), a graphic
novel (Maus), nonfiction (selections The Origin Of Species, the
philosophical writings of Peter Singer and Alistair McIntyre), and
film (Babe, Au Hasard Balthazar).

The course will have two lectures and two discussion sections a
week. Sections will focus on in-depth analysis of the course
readings and provide writing instruction, emphasizing how to develop
and support arguments about literary texts. Students will be
responsible for four essays (and revisions of those essays), a
midterm exam, and a final exam as well as active participation in
course discussion. When taken in conjunction with L141, this course
fulfills the English Composition requirement.