Central Connecticut State University
Animals & Society
Using Symbolic Interaction as the main theoretical perspective, this course explores the social relationship between humans and animals and examines the social meanings which shape the role and status of animals in society.
University of Connecticut
Introduction to the Human Animal Bond
The human/animal bond (HAB) is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and non-human animals. This course is a review of the changing role of animals in our lives and how we interact with them. The class will discuss how the HAB is used to promote quality of life in humans through animal assisted activities. In addition, we will discuss how animals are integrated into the treatment of physical and psychological health of humans.
Due to unprecedented ecological degradation and enormous inequalities in the distribution of the means of flourishing, human beings all over the world are being forced to reconsider their relationship to each other and the non-human world. In this course, we explore the character, conditions, and concerns that shape these troubled relationships. The first part of the course will discuss the philosophical basis for membership in the moral community. Do animals matter? Do future generations matter? Do trees matter? We will spend most of the course exploring how these things matter, if and when they do, by analyzing specific cases/problems: vegetarianism, cultural hunting of whales, environmental racism, and wilderness preservation. The goals of the course are to help you to think critically, to read carefully, to argue well, and to defend your reasoned views about the moral relations between humans, animals, and nature.
College of Letters
Thinking Animals: An Introduction to Animal Studies
The question of “the animal” has become a recent focus across the disciplines, extending debates over identity and difference to our so-called “non-speaking” others. This course will examine a range of theories and representations of the animal in order to examine how human identity and its various gendered, classed, and racial manifestations have been conceived of through and against notions of animality, as well as how such conceptions have affected human-animal relations and practices such as pet-keeping and zoos. We will seek to understand the desire to tame or objectify animals as well as evidence of a contrasting desire that they remain guardians of inaccessible experience and knowledge. Readings may include: Darwin, Poe, Kafka, Mann, Woolf, Coetzee, Hearne.
Humanity, within the Western tradition, has largely been defined in opposition to “the animal,” especially by reserving the notion of subjectivity for humans. But what happens to the understanding of the human when the very foundations of subjectivity such as thought, language and moral agency, are said to be possessed by at least some animals? This course will focus on recent efforts in literature, philosophy and the arts to redress the humanist bias regarding subjectivity and come to grips with the consequences of human animality.
Race, Science, Gender, and Species
What does it mean to be “human” or “animal”? How are these categorizations and contestations surrounding humanity and animality a concern for feminist and critical scholars? How does critical theory help us to understand the (at times) uneasy intersections – or “dangerous crossings,” as Claire Jean Kim calls them – where race, species, gender and theories of science intersect to formulate ideas about humanity and animality? What theoretical and practical possibilities arise from exploring these intersections? This course explores these questions, curating a conversation about how theories of science shape ideas about race, gender, and species. The course begins with Donna Haraway’s now-classic Primate Visions as an introduction to the ways in which race, species, and gender are entangled with views of modern science. In many ways, this text touches at least briefly on all the themes we will be exploring throughout the quarter. From there, we consider posthumanist theory – its possibilities and its limits. The second part of the course engages with black feminisms and what it means to be human, how the human is a site of political contestation, and how biopolitical negotiations shape lived experience and structural processes. Part three engages with exciting new work that sits at the nexus of critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and critical animal studies to explore what insights these intersections generate. The fourth and final part of the course turns to the emergent field of postcolonial animal studies which, at its core, addresses questions about race, empire, coloniality, and power in multispecies contexts. Finally, the course concludes with a collectively curated selection of readings, to be determined by seminar members.
Economies of Death, Geographies of Care
Living, dying, and care work are processes often governed by economic logics that render some lives killable and others grievable in global regimes of power. This course explores how theoretical frameworks of “economies of death” and “geographies of care” can help to illuminate how human and nonhuman lives, deaths, and systems of care are intertwined with economic logics. Whose lives are privileged over others and with what consequences? How are certain bodies made killable and others grievable? How do we understand and face care processes of death and dying, and how are these processes often geographically determined? How do we live and die well, give and receive care, and who has this privilege? This class interrogates these and other questions related to how we live and die with others in a multispecies world. With attention to race, gender, species, and other sites of perceived difference, students will gain a nuanced understanding of core themes related to fundamental processes of living, dying, and caring labor. This course asks students to theorize economies of death and geographies of care to understand the deeply political nature of life and death as differential moments on a continuum of being. We focus on key questions related to an affirmative politics of life – in other words, how we should live, how we care and for whom, and how we might foster nonviolent interpersonal life-affirming encounters. Students can expect to explore pressing contemporary issues such as mass incarceration and ‘social death;’ climate change; valuing and commodifying life; breeding and raising nonhuman animals for food; plant consciousness; end-of-life care and euthanasia; and the role of marginalized bodies in biomedical research. The course will be heavily discussion-based.
Bio-ethics and the Animal/Human Boundary
Megan H. Glick
Western Connecticut State University
Ethics and the Nonhuman
Students learn about the treatment of nonhuman animals by humans, and learn how to argue logically and evaluate moral arguments for and against practices and positions. The emphasis is on critical thinking and development of proficiency in arguing the issues.
Animals in Literature and Theory
This course is on the representation of animal life and consciousness in works of literature and also an introduction to the emerging field of critical animal studies. We will pose such questions as: What have non-human animals meant for Western and non-Western cultures? How do poetry and fiction attempt to represent the experience of animals by asking us to inhabit their sensations or emotions or thoughts? How has philosophy understood our moral obligation to animals? In the broadest sense, what role do animals play in our aesthetic, ethical, political, and scientific worlds? We will read fiction, poetry, philosophy, and critical theory, and we will discuss animal sentience and experience, vegetarianism, animal fables, pet keeping, animals alongside disability, race, and gender, and the representation of animal life in the visual arts.
Religion and Ecology
What are animals and what are our ethical responsibilities to them? This course introduces students to the major ethical questions in animal ethics and explores a variety of philosophical and religious ways of framing human-animal relationships: Is it ethical to eat animals, experiment upon them, or to keep them in zoos or as pets? Do animals have rights? What does the Bible say about animals and what does the Christian tradition teach us about compassion and mercy towards animals? Do all dogs go to heaven? How does animal ethics challenge and expand traditional models of religious ethics? Students will engage with and compare a wide range of questions and insights from animal ethics, animal studies, animal science, art and culture, and environmental philosophy to understand human relationships to animals. We will also examine how religious traditions, most notably Christianity, transmit and inform contemporary views and ethical frameworks that guide our treatment of other living things. In light of this, the course is organized around three basic categories that pose ethical challenges in animal ethics such as problems of knowledge, problems of experience, and problems of practice. No prior experience in ethics is required. To enhance learning, students in this course will have face-to-face encounters with real animals, multiple guest speakers will visit the class to share their work, and students will also engage in active learning through art at the Yale University Art Gallery. Students in this course are encouraged to be exploratory, critical, and creative in their thinking.