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Human-Animal Studies: Courses in English and Literature

English and Literature Overview

This is a list of colleges and universities around the world who provide courses for English and Literature in relation to the human-animal relationship.  This includes the name of the college, the name of the course, who is teaching the course, and brief description of the English and Literature course that the instructor will be covering.

Appalachian State University

Cultural Studies: Representing Animals in Irish Literature and Culture

Kathryn Kirkpatrick

From the shape-shifters of the sagas and the simian Paddies of the nineteenth century to the Celtic Tiger of recent years, non-human animals have figured powerfully in portrayals of Irishness.  These portrayals tell us a great deal about the ways discourses of animality construct the human, and often, the sub-human.   Indeed, Maureen O’Connor has argued that the constructed proximity of the Irish to animals justified the colonial use of force to subdue and contain them.  Conversely, making the ideological connections between the oppression of women, the Irish, and animals, prominent nineteenth-century animal advocates from Ireland like Richard Martin of Galway, worked for both human and animal liberatory practices.  In this class we will work at the intersections of Cultural Studies, Irish studies, and Critical Animal Studies, examining the relationship between humans and animals within Irish writing and cultural production.  Texts will include Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City, Steve Baker’s Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity, and Representation, Lisa Kemmerer’s Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice, and selected Irish poems, stories, plays, and films.  Requirements include short essays, a presentation, and a final paper.


Broward College, South Campus

Animal-Human Interaction in Literature – Fully Online Course

Vicki Hendricks

Animals in literature have always captivated readers. The evolution of animal-human relationships from the 19th century to the present offers an interesting field of study, including animals as symbols, concepts of ownership versus companionship, cooperation and conflict in nature, suffering and morality, and literalist anthropomorphism as opposed to otherness-in-connection. Poe’s “The Black Cat,” Tolstoy’s Strider: The Story of a Horse, London’s The Call of the Wild, Woolf’s Flush: A Biography and contemporary works Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst are the selected texts for discussion and written analysis.


Canisius College

Writing and Animal Studies: Representations in Film and Literature. Review of the important roles that non-human animals play in our literary culture.


Carroll University

Writing Seminar: Animal Themes

Susan Nusser

This seminar uses a theme-based approach in which we will focus on a body of readings on the same theme–animals and society. By reading multiple texts about animals and our relationship to them, we can examine the many roles that animals play in human societies. The common theme will help you develop your reading skills as we analyze subtle differences between our authors’ arguments.

Animals and Society

Susan Nusser

The goal of this class is to teach you both the critical thinking and writing skills that you will need for your academic and professional careers.  One of the best ways to develop critical thinking skills is by writing down your ideas, thinking about what you’ve written, and then revising so that your writing clearly communicates your ideas. To give you plenty of ideas about which to think and write, this Seminar uses a theme-based approach in which we will focus on a body of readings on the same theme—animals and society.  By reading multiple texts about animals and our relationship to them, we can examine the many roles that animals play in human societies. The common theme will help you develop your reading skills as we analyze subtle differences between our authors’ arguments.  Writing about closely related ideas will also help you develop your ability to make sophisticated, nuanced, and comprehensive arguments. Because adaptability and flexibility are so important for both students and professionals, we will write in multiple forms: short answer reading responses, wiki posts, and a multi-source analysis paper.


City University of New York, Brooklyn

Saints, Monsters, and Animals in the Middle Ages

Karl Steel

Despite the insights of evolutionary biology, and critiques of the autonomy of the soul, self, and language based in psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and various historical methodologies, literary criticism and philosophy have persisted in considering humans as fundamentally distinct from all other worldly life. The Christian Middle Ages, with its insistence on the linguistic, rational, and ethical particularity of human life, is a key source of such dominant conceptions of the human, but its literary works may also model ways to reconceive our humanity more generously. By reading medieval works from a variety of genres, we will track the the multiple and shifting edges of humanity as it abuts on, and mixes with, the super-, sub-, and extrahuman, to seek to describe a posthumanism worthy of the name.


Coastal Carolina University

Critical Conversations in English–Animals

Daniel Cross Turner

“Animals” will explore literature and other cultural textualities in conjunction with the emergent field of animal studies. The “animalistic” has often been equated with the “primitive,” understood in pejorative terms. Yet this course will work to unhinge hierarchical equations between human/modernity, on the one side, and animal/primitivism, on the other. “Animals” will examine a range of perspectives on animals and animality in a diversity of texts and cultural materials, from various mythological sources to literary texts, and from older arts (e.g., sculpture and painting) to modern and contemporary media (e.g., photography, film, popular music, digital art). Our perspectives on animals significantly influence our views on matters of ecology, ethnicity, gender, and economics, among other contested issues. Our discussions will address the following interrelated questions: What is an animal? What is a human? What, if any, are our responsibilities to nonhuman animals? Do animals have subjectivity and agency? What is the difference between civilization and wildness?  How do images of human-nonhuman transformations worry the lines between species? Why are metamorphoses between humans and animals so central to a variety of mythological and religious traditions? In what ways are the world of nature and the world of culture pointedly, even painfully inextricable? In addition to current scholarship on animal studies and ecocriticism, we will examine the nature of animals in relation to earlier philosophical, religious, scientific, and eco-critical contexts.


Colorado State University

Michael Lundblad

American Literature in Cultural Contexts: Contemporary American Animality

Animals are everywhere in American cultural texts: from children’s movies to critically acclaimed postmodern writing; from Animal Planet to King Kong; from bestsellers on the inner lives of animals to blockbuster documentaries on people living-and dying-with wild animals.  Why are we so fascinated with these various animals and the people who know them?  This course will explore representations of animals-and humans as animals-in the work of contemporary writers, such as Linda Hogan, Mark Doty, Philip K. Dick, and J. M. Coetzee, as well as films, such as Gorillas in the MistGrizzly Man, and the 2005 remake of King Kong.  Our interdisciplinary approach will draw upon debates from the academic fields of animality studies, American studies, and critical theory, in order to focus on several key issues: animal rights; arguments for the humane treatment of various human and animal populations; evolutionary theories used to explain human and nonhuman behavior; and narrative attempts to redeem “the human” in relation to how we interact with “the animal.”  We will also pay close attention to the historical relationship between discourses of animality and the construction of human categories of sexuality, gender, and race.  With these issues and questions in mind, we will dive deeply into course texts and films and hope to develop frameworks for thinking about other representations of animality in America today.

The Nature of the Beast in American Culture

What kind of beast might be lurking inside you, barely kept in check by your self-control?  What kind of instincts do wild animals have?  How can representations of animals and human animality in American literary and cultural texts affect the way we think about such issues as “natural” behavior, competition, or even exploitation?  From an interdisciplinary perspective, this course will explore the role of animality in American literature and culture, ranging from representations of real animals to metaphors of the beast in human culture and theories of sociobiology.  Throughout the course we will explore not only advocacy for real animals, but also the ethical and political implications of using evolutionary theories to distinguish between human identity groups related to sexuality, race, gender, and class.  The course will emphasize critical reading, writing, and discussion skills, as well as principles of academic argument that will be applicable to a wide range of fields and disciplines.

Critical Studies in Literature & Culture: Animality Studies

Animality studies is one of the most exciting new lines of interdisciplinary inquiry within literary and cultural studies today. This course will provide an introduction to the growing field, primarily directed toward graduate students in literature, but also toward graduate students from other programs who might be interested in learning more about the relationship between discourses of animality and questions of rhetoric, ethics, and politics. Our focus will be on recent work by theorists, such as Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Donna Haraway, and Cary Wolfe, that has brought increased attention to the site of “the animal.” This work has not only challenged traditional ways of defining the boundary between the human and the animal (at times leading to questions about the ethical treatment of animals, particularly in what is called “animal studies”), but also inspired fundamental reconsideration of issues such as human subjectivity, difference, and otherness.  Animality studies, in other words, includes much more than the study of nonhuman animals from the perspective of the humanities and social sciences. Discourses of animality construct the categories of “the human” and “the inhuman,” for example, in relation to structures of power at various historical and cultural moments.  In addition to reading a range of theoretical texts, we will consider the significance of animality studies in relation to two primary texts: Jack London‟s The Call of the Wild and Peter Jackson‟s 2005 remake of King Kong.  We will also welcome to our class two internationally known professors at CSU, Bernard E. Rollin and Temple Grandin.  Regardless of whether students choose to pursue advanced work in this provocative new field, the course will offer an opportunity to engage with preeminent literary and cultural theorists whose work also goes well beyond animality studies.


Columbia University

Kári Driscoll

At The Zoo: Looking at Animals in Modern Literature & Culture

This is an interdisciplinary, discussion-based course focusing on the motif of animal exhibition and encounter in a modern urbanized context as depicted in German, European and American literature, cinema, philosophy, journalism, and the visual arts. Taking the zoo as the paradigmatic site for human–animal encounters in the modern, urban society, this class will examine the ways in which the relationship between humans and other animals has been conceived, represented and challenged from a variety of perspectives. The key questions which we will seek to address in this course are: How do animals and humans look at each other in the modern world, and how have artists, writers, and critics sought to represent the relationship to animals in their work? Students will read and discuss literary, philosophical and cultural-historical texts in addition to watching a number of films all dealing in one way or another with what philosopher Jacques Derrida has called “the question of the animal”. The class will serve as an introduction to the emerging field of animal studies while allowing students develop their critical reading and writing skills through regular response postings and discussion on the class blog and in class. An excursion to the Bronx Zoo will provide a “hands-on” counterpart to the theoretical and artistic material. Readings include works by: Kafka, Rilke, Hagenbeck, Musil, Uexküll, Pirandello, Hemingway, and others.

Susan Crane

Medieval Animals 

This seminar offers an introduction to basic readings in the field called critical animal studies or human-animal studies, with primary texts from medieval Britain and France, and secondary texts by familiar theorists including Derrida, Foucault, Agamben, Nussbaum, and Haraway together with field-specific founders including Ursula Heise, Vinciane Despret, and Cary Wolfe.  Medieval literature offers a rich archive of thought about nonhuman animals, ranging from the high philosophy of Augustine’s commentary on Genesis and Aquinas’s rediscovery of Aristotle, to the many animal miracles in the Life of Saint Cuthbert, the totemic use of animals in heraldry and family genealogies, and the instructions in treatises on how to hunt boar and deer.  Many questions still current in animal studies today engaged medieval writers as well. Do humans have ethical responsibilities to animals? What kinds of consciousness do different species have? How did domestication come about? What kinds of working relationships are possible across species lines? What rhetorical resources (metaphoric? anthropomorphic? affective?) come forward when animals are represented, and what are the limitations of rhetoric for translating animal encounters into language?


Drury University

Animals in Literature

Students explore the relationships between humans and animals through the lens of American, English, French and Latin American literature. These enjoyable and thought-provoking literary selections offer a unique entrée into the animal rights debate, which is unquestionably one of the most important ethical issues of our day. At the same time, the course is structured to pay particular attention to close-reading, develop an appreciation of canonical literature and improve writing skills.


Eastern New Mexico University

Linda Sumption

Animals in Narrative: Giving Voice to Shifting Views

In recent years, animal studies has emerged as a significant, interdisciplinary academic field.  Following the development of environmental studies, scholars and writers have begun to question the ways that human beings relate to nonhuman creatures.  How has that relationship changed in recent times? What forces have brought about that change?  Most important to us in our course is this question:  How do the stories we tell express that shift?  We see changes in perspective and expression about nonhuman life in nonfiction, poetry, fiction, and film.  This course is designed to give you a look into those literary forms, and to give you an opportunity to participate in a lively, global conversation about the way we relate to a great range of other creatures, including domestic animals, exotic wildlife, creatures we mostly ignore, and those we label as pets.


Georgia State University

Representations of Animals

Randy Malamud

In this course we will engage with newly-emerging academic work in the field of anthrozoology (human-animal studies).  I am interested (and I hope you will be, too!) in what happens when human and nonhuman animals collide in the realm of culture.  I strongly encourage you to make connections between anthrozoology and whatever existing interests and expertise you’re developing in your graduate program; this shouldn’t be too difficult, as animals are everywhere.   Anthrozoology as a literary methodology reiterates the template of Marxist and feminist theory: as feminist critics, for example, look at a text and find the sublimated or oppressed presence and importance of women, or Marxists look at culture through the lens of class, anthrozoologists look at our cultural practices and texts informed by the workings of ecology, and . . . . all sorts of importnat things start to happen when we focus in on the decentered other (i.e., the animal).

Senior Seminar in Ecocriticism

Randy Malamud

The topic/methodology that we’ll be studying is ecocriticism.  Short definition: ecologically-inspired analysis of culture; longer definitions to be developed as we read and write.  I will talk about my work in ecocriticism, and my sense of how it functions as a discipline and what it can and should do within and beyond the academy.


Hamilton College

The Literary Animal

Onno Oerlemans

Human culture has always been deeply interested in, and closely connected to, animals. Not surprisingly, literature reflects this interest in a variety of ways. In this course, we’ll examine the complexity of representing animals in literature by reading poetry, novels, and plays that reflect the human/animal divide, imagine being animal, or use animals as symbols for other purposes. We’ll also discuss how these texts reveal philosophical and moral issues that arise from our relationships with animals. Texts include those such as Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, London’s Call of the Wild, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Barbara Gowdy’s The White Bone. We’ll also read a broad range of poetry.


Illinois State University

Rebecca Saunders


From Aeschylus to Agamben, philosophy and literature have called on the figure of the animal to represent everything from nobility, fidelity, and beauty to the immoral, depraved and inhuman. But humans are animals too and in post-Freudian and post-Darwinian modernity, humans have been theoretically “animalized:” animals have come to stand in for the “natural” unrestricted by cultural demands, and humans have been reconceived as bearing instincts and drives whose repression may be psychologically damaging. More recently, scholars such as Derrida, Agamben and Wolfe have rearticulated non-human animal life in terms of a shared being, embodiment, and finitude that ethically complicates the relegation of animals to the status of metaphor or raw material (for consumption, entertainment, or experimentation). Meanwhile, scientific scholarship on various species’ forms of communication, ways of reasoning, and moral codes has rendered murkier the line between animal and human.


Indiana University – Bloomington

The literary and legal animal

Alyce Miller

Animals and Ethics

Alyce Miller


Iowa State University

Literature and Society: Capturing Animals

Teresa Mangum

In this course, our overarching goal will be to develop an understanding of what animals “mean” in our culture and of the many ways we use animals-as companions, as metaphors and images to represent fears, pleasures, and assumptions, as food, as objects for pleasure and sadly for abuse, as commodities, as projections of qualities we wish to possess.   We will also be participating in a new educational approach called Service-Learning so that in addition to using literary and theoretical printed and visual work as our course texts, we will also be using your own experiences and reflections.   During your service at the Iowa City/Coralville Animal Center, the stories and insights that you collect there will essentially form an additional course text. In effect, we’ll be “capturing animals” throughout the semester: in fiction, in the Animal Center, in advertisements, in theoretical accounts of human-animal relations, in community policies governing animals, in university policies on animal research, in popular culture, and in politics.   Throughout the semester, we’ll return to a number of research questions which will knit together class readings, your service at the Animal Center, and, I hope, ultimately the reflections, discussions, written work, and research that will bind us together as a class.


Keene State College

Literature and the Environment

This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the traditions of environmental literature. Students will learn to think across the humanities, arts, and sciences. May explore a particular group of writers, genre, historical period, or bioregion. May be repeated once as topics change.

Searching for Wildness

Mark C. Long


Lafayette College

Humans and Other Animals in Twentieth Century Literature and Culture

Carrie Rohman

This course investigates the ways in which non-human animals are situated within literary and cultural discourse and examines the more specific issue of “rights” for those animals.  We will seek to understand how various animals are valued and used in our culture, what ideas underlie such distinctions, and how these ideas have been challenged by recent work in animal rights philosophy.  The course begins with a broad introduction to the ways animals have been theorized within our own (Western) intellectual tradition and then engages the primary critical positions within animal rights debates.  These readings prepare us for the final segment of the course which examines representations of the human/animal boundary in (mostly) twentieth-century literature.  In our early discussions, we will look at questions of empathy and anthropocentrism (Walker, “Am I Blue?”) alongside philosophical and theoretical elaborations of the human/animal relationship (Freud and Bataille).  Our second unit examines classic philosophical work by Singer and Regan, and also looks at more contemporary critiques of that work (Slicer).  Among our literary considerations will be the role of Enlightenment rationality in relation to science and humanism at the turn of the twentieth century (Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau), the reversal of traditional humanist hierarchies in science fiction texts (Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), and questions of human and animal agency, suffering, and mourning (Coetzee, Disgrace).  As part of the course you will participate in animal-related service work in the Easton area and will use our readings and discussions to contextualize that experience.  Service-learning courses aim to give you hands-on experiences, outside the classroom, that enrich and complicate your in-class studies.  Service courses also involve you in the community and allow you to examine questions and problems from a new perspective, developing your own experiential “text” that you can analyze and critique.

Literature & Human Experience.

Carrie Rohman

This course investigates how non-human animals are situated within literary and cultural discourse.  The course begins with a broad introduction to the ways animals have been theorized within our own (Western) intellectual tradition, and then engages with representations of animals and the human/animal boundary in twentieth-century literature.  We will therefore be reading a wide variety of texts that help us understand the ways animals are figured in literature.

Representing Animals

Carrie Rohman

The Dog Course

Bianca Falbo

Dogs:  Are they “Man’s” best friend or “nature’s” most successful parasite?  Employing a range of perspectives—literary, philosophical, archeological, biological and technological—we will examine how the dog has been “constructed” (figuratively and literally) in human history,  and how, in our determinations of the dog’s value as hunter, protector, pet, and/or medical specimen, we circumscribe our own identity as “human.”  Over the course of the semester, we will explore the psychology of animal ownership, the philosophy of animal agency, and the politics of animal rights.  We will consider, as well, ethical problems posed by the technology of breeding and the use of animal models in scientific research.  Through consideration of these issues, we will seek to reevaluate our understanding of the complex bond between humans and dogs.

Writing Seminar

Bianca Falbo

Representing Animals. Animals are our companions, our scientific “models,” our evolutionary kin, our food, our genetic playthings, our fashion statements. We experience animals at home, in zoos, in the grocery store, in labs, in the “wild” and throughout the spectrum of popular media such as television and film. This course will investigate how animals are represented in language and the value systems that underwrite those representations. Among our chief considerations will be what our descriptions of animals say about us; the intersections of gender, race, and animality in language; and the question of animals “talking back.”


McGill University 

Stephanie Posthumus

Literary Animals, A Cross-Cultural Perspective 


McMaster University

David L. Clark

Regarding Animals: Theories of Non-Human Life

Isaac Bashevis Singer once wrote that factory-farmed animals endured conditions comparable in their killing violence to those suffered by the Jews in the Nazi death-camps. Life for animals, he argues, “is an eternal Treblinka.” To say the very least, Singer’s allusion to the Holocaust is consequential and controversial (although not without precedent). To satisfy the world’s appetite for meat, are animals not only slaughtered but also murdered? Does “the Final Solution” (the systematic killing of the European Jews) share a hidden history with the industrialization of the business of raising pigs, chickens, and cows for human consumption? More broadly, is injustice irreducible to inhumanity? Do non-human animals oblige us? But who, “us”? Are animal bodies bodies that matter? This three-unit course explores the question of human understandings of and obligations towards non-human life, especially that life which is often too quickly called “the animal.” What is an “animal”? What does it mean to fall under its gaze? Are obligations towards animals exhausted by the concept of rights? Can an animal speak…or be heard? If the thought of the animal represents a challenge to ethics, it is also certainly a scandal for epistemology. In what ways does the animal disrupt existing theories of knowledge and knowing, especially those that quarantine theory and that privilege the social, cultural, and empirical? We will explore these and related questions through a close, contextualized reading of a selection of philosophical and theoretical texts. Although this course will address a wide range of positions in animal studies, including the “analytical” traditions of animal rights and animal liberation which dominate discussions of the ethics of non-human life in North America, its primary focus will be on work that is rooted in Continental philosophy and theory (ranging from Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben to the psychoanalytically inflected writings of Alice Kuzniar). Continental philosophy and theory robustly dissents from the existing analytical traditions in animal studies, and it is the importance, history, and rationale of that dissent that will call for rigorous discussion and elaboration in our class.


Michigan State

Anna Feuerstein

Reading Animals in British Literature & Culture 

In the past ten years, scholars across various disciplines have become increasingly interested in what has been termed “the question of the animal.”  That is, scholars in philosophy, literature, law, art history, sociology and history (among other disciplines) have started to take seriously the animals around us, and question not only the human/animal divide, but also the status of the animal more broadly.  Not only have we begun to interrogate questions of animal consciousness, subjectivity, and the animal as an ethical subject, but scholars in this field also study the cultural place of animals – animals as pets, in zoos, in images, in literature, in science, and as food.  Thus, this class will look at how animals existed in British culture, and how they are represented in British literature. We will begin in the romantic period, looking at poetry, and move into the Victorian period, where we will address issues such as anthropomorphism, children’s literature, vivisection and the C19 animal rights movement, evolution, and imperialism.  We will end in the 20th century with an emphasis on pets and animality.  As we trace these themes, we will always look at how these animals collide with other cultural and social issues.  Along with literature, we will also read history and contemporary philosophical work on animal studies, in order to enhance our own analytical frameworks as we interrogate what it means to be an animal, and what it means to relate with them.


Nassau Community College

Joan Gordon

Animal Studies and Science Fiction

This course will look at the new field of animal studies as it is explored in science fiction. Animal studies uses the wide interdisciplinary range of cultural studies to examine the relationship between human beings and other animals. Its concerns include philosophical, scientific, and cultural considerations. Science fiction is particularly well suited to explore the issues of animal studies and many of the concerns of animal studies feel quite science-fictional.

New York University

Animal Rites

Una Chaudhuri

This course will explore the relationship between performance and the fast-growing new field of Animal Studies, which examines the cultural meaning of human animal practices. These include not only literary representations of animals (from Aesop’s Fables to Will Self’s Great Apes), not only dramatic representations of animals (from Aristophanes’ The Frogs to Shaeffer’s Equus to Albee’s The Goat), not only animal performances in circuses and on stage, but also such ubiquitous or isolated social practices as pet-keeping, cock-fighting, dog shows, equestrian displays, rodeos, bull-fighting, animal sacrifice, hunting, animal slaughter, and meat-eating. We will study plays and films that explore the ways our interaction with animals shapes our accounts of the human, the “other” (including the racial and ethnic other), and the world. Plays: Rhinoceros (Ionesco), Equus (Shaeffer), The Goat, The Zoo Story(Albee), The Swan (Egloff), The Hairy Ape (O’Neill), Sylvia (Gurney) Far Away(Churchill), Cries from the Mammal House (Johnson) The Gnadiges Fraulien (Tennessee Williams). Films: The Silence of the Lambs, Amores Perroes, Carnage, Twelve Monkeys, Planet of the Apes.


Pace University

Tracy Basile

Animals & Society

Everything we have known about animals is changing. We’re learning that they have language, emotions, and intelligence. It’s not just companion animals that we have come to better understand; it’s animals on farms, in laboratories, in the wild, and in our own backyards. Yet despite these advances in science, our society seems ambivalent to acknowledge their real value. Why? What’s at stake? “Animals & Society” is a Civic Engagement and Writing Enhanced course that stretches our everyday concepts of community service to include the world of animals. You will hear guest lectures, watch award-winning films, and experience first-hand what it is like to volunteer in the nonprofit world of animal advocacy.  You will also be challenged by interesting writing assignments, readings and class discussions. Everyone is required to work a minimum of 12 hours at an organization whose central mission involves the welfare of animals. Throughout the course you are encouraged to question your own assumptions about animals and to ask what are the consequences of these assumptions.

Portland State University Alastair Hunt Eng 494/594 Critical Animal Theory  This course begins from the premise that animals are not and have never been either naturally and fully in the humanities or naturally and fully alien to it. “The proper study of humankind” has always been humankind’s difference from animals, and it is the humanities’ job to produce this difference. The present humanistic study of animals, however, submits this difference to scrutiny. Is the difference between the human and the animal simple, single, and of the nature of an opposition? Is it given in nature rather than invented by culture? Is this difference simply ontological or is it originarily ethical? If the human needs this difference to constitute itself, to what extent is the animal indifferent to this need?


Portland State University

Alastair Hunt

Critical Animal Theory

This course begins from the premise that animals are not and have never been either naturally and fully in the humanities or naturally and fully alien to it. “The proper study of humankind” has always been humankind’s difference from animals, and it is the humanities’ job to produce this difference. The present humanistic study of animals, however, submits this difference to scrutiny. Is the difference between the human and the animal simple, single, and of the nature of an opposition? Is it given in nature rather than invented by culture? Is this difference simply ontological or is it originarily ethical? If the human needs this difference to constitute itself, to what extent is the animal indifferent to this need?


Sarah Lawrence College

Karen Rader

Animal Minds, Animal Bodies


South Louisiana Community College

Animals in Literature

Erin Breaux

This course is an introduction to the techniques of critical reading with emphasis on theme and various genres. Students will explore various literary movements, conventions, and styles. Course content may vary by semester. In this section, we will focus on a selection of literary texts (film, novels, graphic novels, poetry) that use animals as symbols, voices, characters, or inspiration. We will analyze the texts to see how they work as literature, what they teach us about animals, what they reveal about humans and our relationships to animals, and how they provide entry to various social issues and ethical questions involving animals. We will reference cultural ideas and texts, interdisciplinary research, and recent news on animal issues, connecting these to the literary works. Ultimately, the literature this semester will help us better understand our personal, cultural, and ethical relationships with animals, and it will encourage us to reevaluate how we (humans and animals) inhabit each other’s worlds—both real and imagined.


State University of Illinois at Springfield

Boria Sax

Animals and Human Civilization 

This course examines social, religious, and philosophical perspectives on animals of from pre-Biblical times to the present, especially the ways in which animals have provided essential metaphors for social divisions along lines of tribe, gender, class, race, and other categories. It will look, for example, at the social and political consequences of developments that have helped redefine relations between people and animals such as the Theory of Evolution and, most recently, the development of artificial intelligence.

Animals and Literature

This course looks at the representation of animals in a wide range of literary and folkloric traditions. It will focus, most especially, on the ways in which the literary depiction of animals is intimately tied to changing perspectives on the human condition, which in turn reflect religious, intellectual, governmental, and technological developments.


Stetson University

Environmentalist on the Radical Fringe

Mary Pollock

In this course we will explore two kinds of environmentalism: the environmentalism of the Global North and the very different approach to environmentalism practiced in developing nations. When we think of radical environmentalists, Hardy Jones the dolphin advocate might come to mind, or maybe Butterfly Hill, who lived for two years in a redwood in order to prevent loggers from taking it down. This course on environmentalism will pay due at tention to heroes like this, but also to the very different kind of environmentalists from developing nations. For example, both Chico Mendes, who organized Amazonian rubber tappers to prevent deforestation, and Wangari Maathai, who initiated the Green Belt Movement among central African women, risked their lives for their people while trying to protect the environment.

Arks & Islands: Speciation & Extinction 

This seminar will be an experience in thinking deeply about one topic— speciation and extinction–from several different perspectives.  Since extinction and speciation are most obvious on islands, islands can serve as scientific laboratories and thought experiments. Islands can also be arks—places set aside to preserve animals. There are many kinds of arks, including zoos, reserves, and sanctuaries.  We will study those, too. A first glance at the readings shows that we will mix up fiction and nonfiction, science, and, philosophy.  The best answers to complex questions are often pieced together from many kinds of insights.

Temple University

Animal Welfare & Human-Animal Community

Dan Featherston

Our communities include not only humans but also nonhuman animals. Unfortunately, more than 30,000 nonhuman animals are surrendered each year to shelters in our local communities and over 60% are euthanized. This community-based learning (CBL) course will focus on companion animals, working in collaboration with our community partner, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA). Based on a learning model of interaction and reciprocal exchange, we will combine class work with community work at the PSPCA, exploring animal welfare issues that impact the lives of humans and animals in our community. Drawing on the interdisciplinary field of human-animal studies, including rhetorical, cultural, and philosophical studies of “the animal,” nonhuman animals and human-animal relations in literature and literary theory, and the history of animal welfare and animal law, students will explore companion animal issues and conduct community projects pertaining to companion animals in the hopes of helping both humans and nonhuman animals in our community. Written work will include three major essays in which students will investigate human-animal studies, including nonhuman animals in rhetoric and literature, and the interface between human-animal studies and community-based learning.

Eco-Literature: Human-Animal Community

Daniel Featherston


University of California, Berkeley

Animals in Literature and Theory

Justin Eichenlaub

This course engages the question of the animal through novels, poetry, philosophy, theory, film, painting and photography, and popular culture. Our approach will be to examine and track major trends in the burgeoning field of animal studies, allowing us to think about how animals are represented in cultural products and how contemporary philosophers and theorists are re-imagining human-animal relations. To rethink the being and ‘meaning’ of animals also entails revisiting the idea of ‘the human.’ While this class engages with fictional and philosophical questions, we’re going to take the everyday, embodied repercussions of these ideas seriously. Some of our particular topics will include the relationship of literary and artistic form to ethical arguments (particularly in Coetzee’s Lives of Animals and Safran Foer’s Eating Animals); questions of what role animals should play in our lives through Donna Harraway’s ideas of companion species; Franz Kafka’s short story “Report to an Academy,” about a humanistic ape; Lydia Millet’s powerful novel How the Dead Dream which links questions of species extinctions with human loss; and we’ll visit the Oakland Zoo to consider this eminently-Victorian and colonial means of ‘making the animal visible.’


University of California, San Diego

Latin American Literature

Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond

Latin American Literature in Translation: Brazilian Humanimals: Species and Postcoloniality in Brazilian Literature. This course looks at Brazilian texts wherein representations of animals intersect with postcolonial (racialized, classed and gendered) power relations. Situating our readings alongside other media-essays, cinema, music–we will consider the animal not simply as metaphor for “human” objectification but question precisely the human/ animal divide that enables colonialist   systems of domination. Though we will focus principally on Brazilian texts, we will situate them in the context of cross-cultural discussions in ecocriticism and species studies. How do gender, race and species intersect in literary representations? What is at stake in scrutinizing the ethical dimensions of human/animal relations?


University of California Santa Cruz

Carla Freccero

Animal Theory


This course examines works on human and non-human animal life in the French tradition trans-historically in a variety of genres: philosophy, short story, poetry, essays, and science. Texts to be studied range from Marie de France’s poems about human-animal transformations and Montaigne’s eloquent defense of non-human animal intelligence and feeling, to the satirical verse of La Fontaine and the animal-as-machine philosophy of René Descartes, to the strange and wonderful world of insects in Henri Fabre, to current fiction, the ethological interventions of Vinciane Despret, and Jacques Derrida’s philosophical meditations of the animal as other. The course is conducted in French

Humanism in the Making: Animals Before/After Descartes

This course, cross-listed among PEMS and French in Literature and also listed as History of Consciousness, explores the genealogy of what retrospectively might be called a minor tradition in Western literary, philosophical, and scientific thinking: the inseparability of orders of being comprising human and non-human life. From certain classical writers, such as Pliny and Herodotus, and early Christian thinkers such as Augustine, to medieval and early modern theological, literary, philosophical and scientific writers such as Marie de France, Rabelais, Montaigne, Léry, Paré, La Fontaine, Pascal, and even Descartes himself, to name a few, a capacious conceptualization of the living may be seen to be at work, one that ranges from a view of the relative insignificance of the human in the order of things, to the hybridity of kinds of living beings (monsters, angels, mixtures of human and animal, mixtures of human and divine, and other permutations), to a model of living differences called Nature. This course examines some of these conceptualizations of life alongside what will emerge as Humanism, the dominant strain of Western philosophical thinking about the living. Readings will include early modern texts that work to define the human as distinct from, even opposed to, the animal (such as Pico della Mirandola’s “On the Dignity of Man”), as well as those that figure the living otherwise.  Throughout the course, we’ll be thinking with a number of current theorists who have, through animal studies and philosophical posthumanism(s), enabled the posing of the question of pre- and post-modern alternatives to humanism.


University of Calgary

The Human and its Others: The Question of the Animal

Pamela Banting

In this seminar we will begin to think with animals first and foremost by considering them in their Otherness. Beginning with a brief investigation into poststructuralist, postmodern, postcolonial, feminist, and ecocritical interrogations of Otherness and the ethics of representation, we will examine the humanist bias and the blind spots regarding the animal in existing theories of the Other. Then we will interrogate theorizations of the animal in relation to the question of language. One of the traditional demarcations between humans and other animals has been the notion that humans are the only ones capable of language and that this trait sets us above other species. Research in zoosemiotics and the long-term studies of naturalists, however, challenge this proprietorial exclusivity, and deep ecologists like Christopher Manes question why we privilege language over photosynthesis or sporogenesis. Thinkers such as James Hatley, Val Plumwood and Jacques Derrida propose that edibility be factored into concepts of subjectivity, including, in Hatley’s words, “the uncanny goodness of being edible to bears.” Emmanuel Levinas proposes the face as the basis for an ethics of self and Other, but the faces of animals (except pets) are widely believed to be the faces of species, not individuals. In summary, we will examine questions of subjectivity, the gaze and the face, constructions of the animal Other in nature photography, communication between humans and other mammals, the question of emotion as it pertains to animals other than humans, problems of anthropomorphism and antianthropomorphism, problems of realism in relation to representing the animal Other, captive and/or domestic vs. wild animals, ethics and etiquette in human/non-human relationships, postmodern animals, inter-species collaborations (e.g. musicians and birds), conservation rhetoric and the difficult of representing creatures who do not create documents and whose languages we do not comprehend, how theorizing the animal Other alters our sense of ourselves and our own species, and other topics.


University of Chicago


Heather Keenleyside

The Animal: Theories of Nonhuman Life. In recent years, a host of thinkers from a range of different disciplines have taken up the question of “the animal,” giving rise to what some have labeled an emerging field of animal studies. In this course, we will read some of the major theoretical texts associated with this turn toward the animal, and consider the challenge that thinking about animals has posed to questions about justice, obligation, subjectivity, and community. We will explore these and related questions through the close reading of a selection of texts from a variety of philosophical and theoretical traditions, likely including Peter Singer, Thomas Regan, Cora Diamond, Christine Korsgaard, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Emmanuel Levinas, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Donna Haraway, Temple Grandin, J. M. Coetzee, and others. As we proceed, we will ask what it means to consider these very diverse thinkers together; we will also be alert to the way that questions about animality intersect or depart from what might be related questions of the posthuman or the biopolitical.


Maud Ellman

Modernism and Animality. This course examines how modernist writing questions the boundary between the human and the animal. We begin by investigating the historical countercurrents represented by Descartes and Montaigne, contrasting Descartes’s notion of the animal-machine to Montaigne’s “theriophilic” defense of animals. Then we consider how Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud transformed the terms of this debate in the modern period. For most of the quarter we focus on modernist fiction and poetry, read in conversation with theoretical works on animals and animality. On the literary side we study such authors as Kafka, Rilke, H.G. Wells, Marianne Moore, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Jack London, George Orwell, and Virginia Woolf; on the theoretical side we look at Berger, Derrida, Agamben, Haraway, Margot Norris, and Deleuze/Guattari, along with key figures in the animal rights debate such as Peter Singer and Tom Regan. There will also be opportunities to work on changing conceptions of the animal as represented in the visual arts, including film.


University of Iowa

Teresa Mangum

Literature and Society: Capturing Animals

In this course, our overarching goal is to grasp what animals “mean” in our culture and to recognize the many ways we use animals—as companions, as metaphors and images to represent fears, pleasures, and assumptions, as food, as objects for pleasure and sadly for abuse, as commodities, as projections of qualities we wish to possess.  We will also be participating in an educational approach called Service-Learning so that in addition to using literary, theoretical, and visual work as our course materials, we will use your own experiences and reflections as our material for study.  During your service with the Iowa City Animal Center and other community partners, the stories and insights that you collect will essentially form an additional course text. In effect, we’ll be “capturing animals” throughout the semester: in fiction, in the community, in advertisements, in theories of human-animal relations, in community policies governing animals, in university policies on animal research, in popular culture, and in politics.


University of Michigan

Animal, Human, Woman: Medieval, Early Modern, Postmodern

Peggy McCracken

Reading the Animal in Literature and Culture

Scott Lyons

The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss famously wrote, “animals are good to think with.” We instantly see the truth of that statement when considering the ubiquity of animals in culture – as symbols and metaphors, spirits and mascots, companions or competitors in the struggle to survive – but animals are not only to be thought with. They are to be lived with. This seminar will bridge the young, interdisciplinary field of animal studies with literary and cultural studies to produce a critical engagement with “lit critters” and the questions they raise regarding politics, ethics, knowledge, and issues of representation.

Sovereignty, Animality, and Intimacy in Medieval French Romance

Peggy McCracken


University of Minnesota

Christine L. Marran

Animals in Culture

Recently the animal has come into focus as a subject of great scholarly attention in the humanities, representing an exciting as well as intellectually varied and stimulating field. It is, in a sense, a time of the animal. But it is also a time for the animal—a time of unprecedented extinctions and of once unimaginable abuses. In this course we will follow the turn to the animal, asking along the way some fundamental questions: What is an animal? What makes the difference between the human and the animal? What constitutes human ethical treatment of animals? How have philosophers engaged the animal and to what ends? How has the animal been understood differently over time and in different cultures?  Pursuing our questions we will read a variety of material (novels, newspapers, philosophy, films) from the west and Asia. The objective of this course is to develop alacrity with the debates and terms used within the burgeoning field of animal studies. Issues of speciesism, ecofeminism, anthropomorphism, the marketing of animals, human and animal health and the animal in art will be examined in a range of materials including fiction, poetry, film and theoretical essays.  Students will develop skills for reading critically and will finish the course with a keen eye for ways that ideas about animal affect our world.

University of Mississippi

Animals in Literature

Karen Raber

This course traces historical changes in the representation of animals in literary and cultural texts like film.


University of New England

Animals, Literature and Culture

Susan McHugh

This course examines how animals define the crossroads of literary representations and cultural formations. Writers have always turned to animal life to find moving symbols of human conditions and, with the insights of animal science research, more recently to gain a broader understanding of cognition and social development. By investigating this history of literary animal studies, this course aims to account for why species differences, especially between humans and animals, remain among the most enduring markers of social difference. In telling stories of dogs, for instance, as variously gods, pets, meat, or pests, humans mark irreconcilable cultural differences among themselves as well as set the limits of what (and who) counts as natural object and cultural subject. As we consider how species boundaries also intersect with historical constructions of gender, race, class, sex, and ethnicity, our readings and discussions will also illuminate how animal literatures model emerging forms of identity and society.


University of New Mexico

The Question of the Animal

Walter Putnam


University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Alan Rauch

Animals, Culture & Society

This course will explore the ways that animals are both conceptualized and utilized in various cultures. The object of the course is to develop a fuller understanding not only of what animals “mean” to humans and how humans respond to animals, but how we address the “post-human condition.” Though this is NOT a biology class, we won’t shy away from zoology and physiology, as they are central to any approach to animals, whether ecological, historical, or behavioral. The course will draw on the cultural and metaphoric use of animals (in literature, art, and philosophy), the consumption of animals (as food and clothing), the scientific status of animals (in experiments and as objects of study), the recreational use of animals (in hunting, zoos, aquariums, safari parks, and as pets), and, in a broader context, the emblematic use of animals.  The overarching issue in this course, however, will be animal cognition, a thorny philosophical and zoological topic that has been the subject of a great deal of discussion in cultural studies, psychology & neurobiology, and philosophy. How do we evaluate the quality of animal thinking or the nature of awareness, sense of self, or experiential process.

University of North Florida

Wild Encounters: Uncaging the Beast in Modern Literature

Bart Welling

Why do “trained” wild animals turn on their human masters? Why do good pets go bad? What happens when humans give expression to “the beast within”? Our airwaves and movie houses in the U. S. have long been full of sensationalistic or simply trivial answers to problems like these. Meanwhile, generations of writers and theorists have been dealing with animal behavior, human/animal interactions, and questions of human/animal identity in ways that challenge our most fundamental assumptions about who we are, what-or who-“they” are, and how “we” ought to be treating “them.” In this class we will not just encounter some of the most famous beasts in modern literature, from Melville’s white whale to Faulkner’s Old Ben to James Dickey’s nightmarish backwoodsmen in Deliverance, but will frame our encounters with them by means of critical engagement with leading animal rights philosophers, biologists, ecocritics and ecofeminists, and other participants in the growing field of what might be called animal studies. Rather than advocating a particular political agenda, our goal will be to create an open and informed dialogue about the functions nonhuman animals and “beastliness” serve in American culture, and, more broadly, about the roles literature plays in helping humankind make sense of its place in a world full of other life forms.


University of Oklahoma

Disney Dogs and Popular Pets.

Brian Hudson

This class will explore how animals, more particularly dogs, have been portrayed in popular culture through short stories and films. We will engage recent theories on the representation of nonhuman animals and how they relate to activism and advocacy.


University of Washington

The Radical Revaluation of Animals Within Society

Aaron Moe


University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Picturing the Beast: The Rhetorical Power of Animals in Visual Culture (116.008)

Stephanie Turner

First-Year Critical Reading and Writing Seminar:  How Animals Matter

Stephanie Turner

This course is designed to ground first-year students in the reading, writing, and rhetorical demands necessary for success in college and beyond.  This class emphasizes rhetorical knowledge to teach  students to be both critical readers of complex texts and critical writers of effective texts.  Each section of the first-year writing focuses on a different theme, topic, or question.  In this course, students investigate the question of how animals matter.  Why this question?  Many people would say that we are experiencing an animal moment in human history.  In other words, we are living in a time characterized by all kinds of conversations about the relationship between humans and animals. In the class, the students will participate in that conversation.

Seminar in Scientific and Technical Communication: Critical Animal Studies in Science and Technology

Stephanie Turner

This course examines animal representation and the human uses of animals in entertainment and exhibition, conservation, agriculture, biomedical research, breeding, and other high-tech practices to explores animals as objects and agents in science and technology.


University of Wisconsin, Marathon County

The Literature of Nature

D. Whitney


University of Wisconsin Parkside

Animals in Literature and Folktale

Maria del Carmen Martinez

In this Ethnic American Literature course, we will be studying literary and cultural texts that employ racially marked and gendered animal figures as central elements.  The course includes considerable attention to the ideological underpinnings of modern social contract theory and thought that locate women and people of color as existing “closer” to nature than culture. In these models, “dusky” bodies — particularly maternal bodies — represent the antithesis of reason and political order.  We will also examine eugenic notions of a hierarchical “family of man” in which certain “races” were seen as “naturally” child-like (and therefore, in need of governing). Native American trickster stories and African American folktales will be attended to at length.


University of Wisconsin River Falls

The Literature of Environmental Justice

Greta Gaard

The concept of environmental justice-that nature is not only found in “wilderness,” but also in the places where we live, work, and play-revises our understanding of environmentalism to include both National Parks and nuclear waste sites, wild and scenic rivers as well as mega-dams and levees, industrialized food production and human health, automobiles and indigenous rights.  Environmental justice literature provides narratives of individuals and communities organizing and responding to economic and environmental problems on local, national, and international levels.  Its stories and investigations show that environmental issues are deeply connected with issues of globalization, gender, race, and class.

Investigating Ideas: Reading, Writing and the Disciplines

Greta Gaard

This is a freshman composition course which teaches writing, but also covers animal issues. One of the texts we use is “Fast Food Nation,” since that text allows me to address the ways that industrialized animal agriculture harms animals, humans who eat them, humans who slaughter them (largely undocumented immigrants), the soil, the air (methane emissions), and contributes to world hunger.


Webster University

Humans and Other Animals

Karla Armbruster

Almost all works of literature include animals, no doubt because of the many ways that human lives are intertwined with those of other animals. But we often don’t pay close attention to how these animals are represented in the literature we read, particularly if they exist on the peripheries of the human story rather than serving as the focus. In this course, we will put what we might call “literary beasts” in the spotlight, reading a wide variety of fiction, poetry, and essays that somehow address the relationship between humans and other animals, whether the animals function as symbols, realistic “beasts,” competitors or allies in the human struggle for existence, fellow creatures with acknowledged moral standing, or even the narrators of stories and the speakers of poems.

Perspectives: Werewolves, Seal Wives, Grizzly Men and Other Metamorphoses.

Karla Armbruster

In this course, we will examine a wide variety of legends, poems, stories, and films that portray human-animal transformations, ranging from classical mythology to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, to stories of humans being eaten by other animals. While they will come from a range of cultures and time periods, they all provide insight into the varied ways humans have relationship between themselves and other animals (and, by extension, nature), sometimes reinforcing the human-animal distinction that some philosophers say is central to our definition of the human, and other times challenging or complicating that distinction. Our goal, then, is to explore the literature of human-animal metamorphoses in order to question and explore not only our relationships with other animals but also to re-evaluate what it means to be human.

Topics in Professional Writing: Writing on Nature and Environment (WRIT 4000)

Karla Armbruster

Dogs and What They Tell Us about Being Human (GNST 1200 Freshman Seminar)

Karla Armbruster


Willamette University

Humans and other Animals

Tobias Menely

We will investigate the ways writers have shepherded readers into an animal world-the perspective of a fish or dog or elephant-and, in doing so, have crossed a boundary that Western philosophy has worked assiduously to maintain. We will also analyze moments when human beings find their sense of what it means to be human troubled by encounters with other animals, be it Gulliver among the Houyhnhnms or Jacques Derrida, naked and feeling the shame of being stared at by his pet pussycat. Throughout the class, we will attend to the ethical, social, and representational questions raised by conscious, communicative animals.