Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Human Animal

ENGL 394.401
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

 

To ask “what is an animal? ” entails wondering about what is being human.  We have become increasingly aware that animals are not to be relegated to the category of pure otherness, can be disposed off and slaughtered at will, and that they  may even have some rights.  Taking a philosophical point of departure with Derrida (The Animal that therefore I am.) and Agamben (The Open:  Man and Animal), we will explore a literary corpus (with Aesop, Cervantes, Poe, Soseki, Ted Hughes, Marianne Moore, Kakfa, J. M. Coetzee) as well as a few films (The Fly, Grizzly Man) so as to question our usual assumptions about the limits separating humanity from animality.

 Bibliography:

Giorgio Agamben,  The Open, Man and Animal   

Cervantes, Exemplary Stories

Coetzee,  Elizabeth Costello

Derrida, The Animal that therefore I am

Ted Hughes, Collected Poems

Kafka, Complete Stories

Marianne Moore, Complete Poems

Soseki  Natsume, I am a cat

Requirements: one film journal, two papers and one oral presentation.