This course is an introduction to the new, interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies, which seeks to challenge traditional assumptions about the human/animal divide and to imagine new ways of co-existing with our fellow creatures. “The question of the animal” is actually a large set of interrelated questions about rights and responsibilities, language and representation, consciousness and personhood, politics and violence, economics and environmentalism, companionship and difference. We’ll explore these questions by studying the mediation of human/non-human animal relations (e.g., in literature, film, photography, social media, gaming, and robotics), and the contexts of human/non-human animal encounters (e.g., homes, factory farms, zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, museums, laboratories, undeveloped wilderness, and urban infrastructure). Our work will include: re-evaluating aesthetic, historical, and philosophical representations of non-human animals; assimilating surprising recent scientific discoveries about various species’ behavior, social structures, cognitive and communicative capacities, and emotional experiences; wrestling with new ethical and legal perspectives on the vast scale of exploitation and suffering of non-human animals; considering radical new forms of interspecies relationships; and, last but not least, questioning our understanding of what it means to be human. Course materials and assignments will include readings, audio-visual galleries, lectures, virtual “field trips,” live workshops and discussion groups, blog posts, and several short essays.