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Idaho Colleges

University of Idaho

English

Animal Studies

Anna Banks

At its root, Animal Studies is a field of study that attempts to take animals seriously. Over the past two decades there has been an explosion of interest in this field, with increased attention given to non-human animals and to the relationship between humans and animals. Particular attention has been paid to animal representations, symbols, and stories, as well as to the actual presence of animals in human societies and cultures, raising questions of animal agency. This course focuses on literary and cinematic depictions of animals.  It explores the role of imagery and representation in constituting contemporary and historical conceptions of animality, and considers “the question of the animal.” To do so, we will explore the following questions:  What role does the animal gaze play in film and literature? How do stories work to deconstruct the anthropocentric narrator?  How do we narrate across species lines? What does it mean to “become animal”? How is animal subjectivity achieved and maintained in post-humanist literatures? In addition to a selection of theoretical and critical writings, primary texts will include: War Horse, the novel by Michael Morpurgo and the film directed by Steven Spielberg; Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley; Martin Marten by Brian Doyle; H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald; and Nenette directed by Nicolas Philibert.

 

English

Animals in Literature and Film

Anna Banks

English 420 explores what George Bluestone called “the mysterious alchemy” of adapting works of literature to film. The course will look at key issues surrounding adaption studies and examine the textual transformations that occur when the story-telling form shifts from written to cinematic language. In so doing, we will consider questions such as the importance of fidelity to the original source, whether storytelling structures are dependent on or independent of medium, and what distinctions can be made between two artistic systems – the literary and the cinematic? This semester an underlying theme for the course will be how animals are depicted in literary and cinematic works. We will explore the role of imagery and representation in constituting contemporary and historical conceptions of animality, and consider “the question of the animal.” To do so, we will explore the following questions:  What role does the animal gaze play in film and literature? How do we narrate across species lines? How is animal subjectivity achieved and maintained in literature and film? Is anthropomorphism necessarily a bad thing? In addition to a selection of critical writings, primary texts will include: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and the animated adaptation by Aleksandr Petrov; War Horse, the novel by Michael Morpurgo and the film directed by Steven Spielberg; Martin Marten by Brian Doyle; Nenette directed by Nicolas Philibert; “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe; and Grizzly Man directed by Werner Hertzog.

 

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