Wisconsin Courses

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.


University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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.


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

Stephanie Turner

University of Wisconsin, Madison


Literary Animals

Mario Ortiz-Robles

Animals are as old as literature. This means that animals have always been a part of literature from its beginnings; but it also means that there has always been something fictional about our attempt to group the vast multiplicity of living organisms with which humans coexist under the single term “animals.” The purpose of this course is twofold. First, through close investigations of a wide variety of literary animals, we will explore how literature has shaped human-animal relations and how these relations have in turn helped shape various literary genres, including the fable, the lyric, realism, allegory, and science fiction. And, second, we will attempt to assess what specific contributions literature and literary theory can make to the emerging field of Animal Studies by weighing our literary readings against key texts from biology, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and history that treat human-animal relations.

Empire of the Ark. The Animal Question, Spectacle and Carceral Modernity

Anne McClintock

Empire of the Ark is an interdisciplinary engagement with the burgeoning field of animal studies, spanning the century from the decline of the British empire to the decline of the US empire. Throughout the course we will explore a range of texts, theories, novels, essays, photographs, and films. We will engage a range of critical approaches but will draw primarily on cultural materialism. Why has the theme of animals had such recent resurgence? Can our vexed preoccupation with animals be seen, in part, as a requiem for the animals disappearing so rapidly and traumatically from our immediate, intimate lives and from our social landscapes? For centuries we human primates lived amongst other animals in intimate proximity. We touched animals, smelled them, worked with them, sacrificed and ate them, slept alongside them. Animals were our first horizon, as John Berger notes. Zoos became the monument to their disappearance. How do we now know what we know about animals? How do we see animals? How do we watch and engage them? Why has spectacle and looking, film and photography, become our primary mode of interaction? Why, with the Enlightenment, did the Western eye become the privileged organ of knowledge and authority over animals? What is the difference between looking at animals, watching animals, and being with animals? What do we not see (slaughter houses, mega-agri-farms, habitat destruction, environmental catastrophes such as the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf)?

Literature and Animal Studies

We usually take for granted that literature is centrally about human experience, but here students will consider the ways that animals and animal consciousness figure in literature. This course will include theoretical as well as literary readings.

Environmental Studies

Thinking through History with Animals

Explores the history of human relationships with animals around the world with focus on agriculture and hunting, political economic development, human identity, and biological science and conservation.


Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues

An interdisciplinary approach to our complex and often contradictory relationships with non-human animals, including information about the nature, needs and behavior of human and non-human animals in relation to our personal and professional interactions with them.


Addressing Controversy: The Science, Ethics, and Public Discussion of Animal Research

Addresses the science, ethics, history, and communication strategies associated with the use of animals in research. Seeks to identify and employ common ground among those with different perspectives to enable students to make good decisions about this contentious topic.

Religious Studies

Francis of Assisi: Literature and the Arts

“Francis of Assisi: Literature and the Arts.” Focus on accounts of St. Francis’s life as written by medieval authors (e.g., Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Thomas of Celano, the Franciscan Brother Leo) as well as works written by Francis himself. Examination of the relevance of Francis’s teachings to contemporary reflections regarding relationships with the Other, the environment and animals. Discussion of issues related to religion, politics, bio-politics and environmental studies.


Animals in World History

Elizabeth Hennessy

Animals are everywhere in human history, yet rarely credited as important historical players. From Cortés’s army of pigs that invaded the New World to the dogs that pioneered space exploration, human history rests on the backs of animals. Moving animals to center stage, this class offers a broad survey of human-animal relationships across various world regions and historical time periods. We will focus on historical case studies of particular animals and species across four themes: 1. Cosmology and Human Identity: From Native American totems to Bucky Badger, what roles do animals play in how we understand ourselves and organize our social groups? 2. Domestication and the Wild: How and to what effect have animals—from livestock to pets—evolved along with humans? Why are some species valued for their utility to people while others are valued for their “wildness”? 3. Development: How has the biology and ecology of different species—such as whales, sheep, and even mosquitos—shaped patterns of empire, globalization, and economic development? 4. Political Movements: How are contemporary political campaigns—from veganism to attempts to bring back extinct species—redefining how we relate to nonhumans? We will explore these questions through a combination of class discussions, lectures, and first-hand animal encounters. Students will complete mini-projects by conducting archival research and participant observation to investigate human-animal relationships in Madison and across the globe.

Thinking Through History with Animals

Elizabeth Hennessy

Animals are everywhere in human history, but are rarely credited as important historical players. In this class, animals are at center stage. From the army of pigs that helped Hernando de Soto invade the New World to the whales whose oil lubricated the Industrial Revolution, animals have changed the course of history. You’ll learn about how human relationships with other animals have changed over time, from early domestication, through exploration and imperialism, to contemporary agriculture, development and conservation. We will explore these questions through a combination of class discussions, lectures, and first-hand animal encounters. You’ll complete mini-projects by conducting archival research and participant observation to investigate human-animal relationships in Madison and across the globe. LEARNING

Global Environmental History: How do we live in the Anthropocene

Elizabeth Hennessy

We have entered the Anthropocene—a “human age” in which people have fundamentally reshaped the planet in ways that put the future of life in jeopardy. Climate change, ocean acidification, and species extinctions on a scale not experienced since the demise of the dinosaurs are just three of the problems scientists identify as central to this new geological epoch. This class approaches this environmental crisis using the framework of global environmental history. This means that we will seek to understand the Anthropocene by investigating how people living in different societies in different times and places have shaped, and been shaped by, their natural environments over the course of world history. How and when did the Anthropocene begin? How do we live in the Anthropocene today? The class is structured around a survey of different proposed start dates for the Anthropocene: are its roots ancient—beginning with the evolution of the human species or the development of agriculture? Is it a modern phenomenon that began with the advent of capitalism, the age of exploration, or the Industrial Revolution? Or did this new era begin more recently: during the “Great Acceleration” of urbanization and development during the 20th century, or with the creation of atomic bombs? How can we judge which of these proposed dates is best? Our goal is not to evaluate the science on which these different proposals are based, but to understand how and why relationships between people and their environments in each of these moments changed so significantly that they have left permanent marks on the planet. Each of these proposed timelines for dating the beginning of the Anthropocene holds a different explanation for what is causing the global environmental problems we now face, and thus also points to different solutions for how to address the crisis. To create a more sustainable future, we need to understand how and why we got into this global environmental crisis. Through this class, students will learn about the social, political, and economic processes through which different societies have shaped, and been shaped by, the natural world. Students will gain an understanding of what is at stake in different proposed dates for the beginning of this new geological epoch. They will learn why historical debates about periodization matter for how we understand and live


University of Wisconsin, Marathon County


Ann Herda-Rapp

Sociology of the Environment. Explores the socio-cultural foundations of our relationship with the natural environment. Examines the relationship between environmental degradation and social, political, and economic structures. Explores beliefs and values about the environment and their expression in various forms of environmentalism and environmental movements. Also analyzes the presentation of environmental issues in cultural, political and scientific domains.


Human Impact on the Environment

Keith Montgomery


The Literature of Nature

D. Whitney



University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


“Best Friends”: History of Human-Animal Relations
Seminar in History: History of Human-Animal Relations

Helena Pycior



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).

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.


Environmental Ethics

Human Nature, Ethics and the Natural World

David Peters


University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point


Advanced Environmental Ethics

Christian Diehm

This course is an advanced study of a certain area, figure, or problem in the field of environmental ethics. The theme of the course will change from semester to semester but may focus on such things as the works of a central figure in environmental ethics, the problem of intrinsic value, the topic of moral pluralism, non-anthropocentric environmental ethics in general, or environmental politics and activism.


Environmental Ethics

Christian Diehm

Parallel to the increasing public awareness of environmental degradation has been the need to examine these complex issues from a philosophical vantage point. This course is an exploration of contemporary approaches to environmental ethics, including Judeo-Christian stewardship, animal liberation/rights, biocentrism, and the ecocentric Land Ethic of Aldo Leopold. We will also look at such contemporary topics as Ecofeminism, the debate over the concept of Wilderness, Gaia theory, Deep Ecology, and radical environmental activism. This course also explores larger questions about the nature of nature, human nature, and what an appropriate relationship between human beings and the natural environment might look like.


Philosophy of Nature
American Indian Environmental Philosophies

Christian Diehm


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Unless otherwise noted, all content on this website is copyright © 2021 The Animals and Society Institute. Please visit https://www.animalsandsociety.org/about-asi/website-reprint-and-use-policies to find out more about our reprint and use policies.

Share Us Online