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ANIMAL STUDIES: A THEORETICAL INTRODUCTION


MAPH 34950/ENGL 24950
Instructor: Agnes Malinowska
Email: amalinowska@uchicago.edu
Course time: T/Th 3:00-4:20 pm
Course location: Harper 102
Office hours: By appointment

In this course, we examine the theoretical underpinnings of Animal Studies,


one of the most productive outgrowths of the so-called posthuman turn in
the humanities and social sciences. In the last twenty years, Animal Studies
has put increasing pressure on the manifold lines of division between
humans and their species others, presented formidable challenges to the
very notion of a unified human subject apart from the animal, and
consistently questioned the assumed divide between nature and culture that
widely grounds humanistic scholarship. This body of work also asks us to
reconsider human difference and otherness by examining the way that
discourses of animality construct categories of the human and the
inhuman in relation to structures of race, gender, and class power. In
reading through the canonical texts of Animal Studies theory, we not only
consider our relationship to animals and animality, but also ask after the
very possibility of representing or accessing The Animal, whether by
theoretical, literary, political, or visual means.
Please note that this course focuses primarily on those texts that have been
influential in literary Animal Studiesthat is, Animal Studies as it is
practiced in literature departments.
Required Texts:

Giorgio Agamben, The Open


Sue Coe, Dead Meat
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto
*All other texts will be made available on Chalk.

Course Requirements:

8 Chalk responses
1 presentation
12-15 page final paper

Course Requirements and Grading:

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The requirements for this course are aimed at ensuring that everyone has
worked through the material carefully in advance of each discussion; that
everyone is therefore able to participate in a productive discussion of the
material; and that everyone has the opportunity to go back and work
through a topic that particularly interests them in more depth (for the final
paper).
With these aims in mind, there are four requirements for the course:
1. Attendance and participation (25% of your final grade): Since this
is a small discussion section, it is essential that students attend as many
sessions as possible and participate constructively in the discussion. The
attendance aspect of your grade will be determined as follows: you will
begin the course with an A+ for this aspect of your grade and lose 4%
(roughly 1/3 of a letter grade) for every absence. Exceptions will be made
for well-documented emergencies. Successful class participation involves
regularly sharing your thoughts and questions about the course
readings, as well as listening and responding to your peers.
2. Weekly Chalk Posts (25% of your final grade): You will be asked to
submit a 500-word (minimum!) response (about 1.5 pages) to the
upcoming readings on a weekly basis. Feel free to write your response in
dialogue with the post of another student. Please post these on our Chalk
discussion board every Monday by 5 pm starting the first Monday after
the course begins. No post will be required for Week 10. You will
typically receive full credit for completed responses, but I reserve the
right to award extra credit for exceptional responses and 1/2 credit for
underwhelming ones. Note that I will always award no more than 3/4
credit for assignments that do not meet the 500 word minimum. You will
begin the course with an A+ for this aspect of your grade. The first
missed assignment decreases this grade by 1/2 of a letter grade (i.e. an
A+ becomes an A). Every subsequent missed response decreases this
aspect of your grade by a full letter gradei.e. an A becomes a B, a B
becomes a C, etc.
3. Presentation (10% of your final grade): You will give a presentation
on one of the texts in the class (maybe with a partner). Well pick these
during our second session. The presentation should last about 10-15
minutes and no longer than 20. Your task for the presentation is as
follows: Describe the claim(s) the text is making, the approach or method
it takes in its analysis of animals/animality, the kinds of evidence or
analysis it marshals in support of the claim, and the intervention you see
it making in Animal Studies (i.e. its stakes). Then, introduce 2-3
questions for the class.

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4. Final paper (40% of your final grade): you will choose one or more of
your weekly responses and develop it into a 12-15 page paper (due TBD).
Disability Accommodations:
I am fully committed to providing an accessible and enabling classroom
regardless of a students temporary or permanent disability. If you have a
documented disability (or think you may have a disability) and, as a result,
need a reasonable accommodation to participate in class, complete course
requirements, or benefit from the University's programs or services, please
let me know as soon as possible. In addition, contact Student Disability
Services at 773-834-4469/TTY 773-795-1186, or visit the website at
disabilities.uchicago.edu, also as soon as possible. If you do require any
accommodations, please provide me with a copy of your Accommodation
Determination Letter (provided to you by the Student Disability Services
office) so that we may discuss how to implement them.

Reading Schedule:
[Subject to revision]
Week 1
Tuesday, March 29th: Introduction; Jeremy Bentham, selection from
Principles of Morals and Legislation
Thursday, March 31st: Selections from The Animals Reader: Aristotle,
Bentham, Michel de Montaigne, Ren Descartes; Kari Weil, A Report on the
Animal Turn (Chapter 1 in Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now?)
Week 2
Tuesday, April 5th: Selections from The Animals Reader (cont.): Peter
Singer, Tom Regan, Martha Nussbaum; Cora Diamond, Eating Meat and
Eating People (Philosophy)
Thursday, April 7th: Jacques Derrida, The Animal that therefore I am
(more to follow) (Critical Inquiry)

Recommended: Derrida, Eating Animals, or the Calculation of the


Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida (in Who Comes After the
Subject?)

Week 3

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Tuesday, April 12th: Derrida (cont.); Cary Wolfe, Animal Studies and the
Humanities (PMLA); Susan Fraiman, Pussy Panic versus Liking Animals
(Critical Inquiry)
Thursday, April 14th: Yi-Fu Tuan, Animal Pets: Cruelty and Affection (The
Animal Reader); Marc Shell, The Family Pet (Representations)
Week 4
Tuesday, April 19th: John Berger, Looking at Animals (About Looking);
Akira Mizuta Lippit, Introduction (Remembering Animals) and Chapter 6
(Animetaphors: Photography, Cryptonymy, Film) of Electric Animal:
Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife
Thursday, April 21st: NO CLASS
Week 5
Tuesday, April 26th: Jakob von Uexkull, A Stroll Through the World of
Animals and Men (excerpts); Martin Heidegger, The Animal is Poor in
World; R.M. Rilke, Eighth Duino Elegy (Duino Elegies)
Thursday, April 28th: Giorgio Agamben, The Open (Focus on sections 1-11)
Week 6
Tuesday, May 3rd: Giorgio Agamben, The Open (Focus on sections 12-20)
Thursday, May 5th: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, 1730: BecomingIntense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible (A Thousand Plateaus)

Recommended: Gerald L. Bruns, Becoming-Animal (Some Simple


Ways) (New Literary History)

Week 7
Tuesday, May 10th: Deleuze and Guattari cont.; Steve Baker, What Does
Becoming-Animal Look Like? (Representing Animals)
Thursday, May 12th: Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto
Week 8
Tuesday, May 17th: Donna Haraway, Chapters 1-3 of When Species Meet
Thursday, May 19th: J.M. Coetzee, The Philosophers and the Animals (pp.
15-45) in The Lives of Animals; Franz Kafka, A Report to an Academy

Recommended: Thomas Nagel, What is it like to be a Bat? (The


Philosophical Review)

Week 9
Tuesday, May 24th: J.M. Coetzee, The Poets and the Animals (pp.47-69) in
The Lives of Animals; R.M. Rilke, The Panther; Ted Hughes, The Jaguar
and Second Glance at a Jaguar
Thursday, May 26th: Franz Kafka, Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse
Folk Investigations of a Dog, Odradek
Week 10
Tuesday, May 31st: Sue Coe, Dead Meat