English | Literary Interpretation
L202 | 6796 | Shannon Gayk

Shannon Gayk

PREREQUISITE:  Completion of the English Composition requirement.

Open to majors and declared minors only.

6796 - 4:00p-5:15p TR (25 students) 3 cr. A&H, IW.

TOPIC:  Ethical Animals

In this course we will focus on the development of the skills and
vocabulary necessary for the interpretation and enjoyment of
literature.  We will put these skills into practice in class
discussion and extensive writing on a wide range of texts, including
poetry, drama, fiction, graphic novels, and film, paying special
attention to the formal characteristics and generic affiliations of
the readings.  Throughout the semester we will focus on how to ask
the right kinds of questions of a literary work, how to use the
tools of literary analysis to arrive at thoughtful answers, and how
to articulate an analytic argument about literature in writing.
To help focus our discussions and writing, we will concentrate on
writing about animals. 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.  In this course we will consider the following questions:
What can animal literature teach us about our representational
modes? What can it teach us about ourselves? We will take up these
questions as we read a variety of animal literature and explore the
various genres that consider the nature of animals, give voice to
animals, and reflect upon human-animal relations.   Course readings
will include: selections from Aesop’s Fables,  from Ovid’s
Metamorphoses, Reynard the Fox, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Art
Spiegelman’s Maus I & II, Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, Virginia
Woolf’s Flush: A Biography, Peter Shaffer’s Equus, and selections
from poetry.  Students will write extensively on these readings over
the semester.  Course requirements include mandatory attendance,
engaged participation, three papers, two exams, and a number of
short writing assignments.