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Beast Culture: Animals, Identity, and Western Literature

ENGL 016.303
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30

In this course, we will explore the European fascination with animals
in early modern print culture. How do understandings of animal
difference inform what it means to be human previous to the 21st
century?  How did practices like pet-keeping, horse racing, hunting,
and zoos become such a central part of our modern day culture?

Readings will include: philosophy of Descartes and Rousseau; classic
novels like Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels; 18th century
scientific texts on species and race classification; radical vegetarian
manifestos; cases of “wild children” raised by wolves; and publicized
cultural hoaxes such as Mary Toft, an English woman who claimed to give
birth to rabbits. Assignments will include several short essays and one
final research paper on an animal of your choosing.