English HUM 4 - Winter, 2020

Class Information

Instructor: Ziser, Michael
Time: TR 9:00-10:20

Description

    In the modern adult world it is very easy to get through an entire day without encountering even a faint reminder of the existence of the nonhuman world. But take a step inside the average child?s bedroom and you will find an incredible array of creatures?goldfish and teddy bears, cartoon chipmunks and puppy slippers, elephant noises and monkey business?spilling from every corner. It is almost as if one comes of age precisely by stepping through a filter that strips one of any animal fellow travelers. How did this happen, and what does it mean?

    This course will explore how ideas about animals come to be mixed up with ideas about childhood in the modern West, as well as how adulthood comes to be something from which the animal is necessarily absent. We will look carefully at tales of feral children, chimpanzees raised by humans, Teddy Bears, Tarzan, ?wire mothers,? neotenic cartoon animals, and Nature Deficit Disorder, among other wild and wonderful things. By the end, we will have a much deeper understanding of what our civilization has told us it means to be animal and human, child and adult.

    No prerequisites: all students with an interest in animals, the environment, child development and psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and/or cultural studies are encouraged to enroll and explore.

Grading

    10 short assignments, due throughout the quarter (70-100%); optional Final Exam (30%)

Texts

    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: A Novel , Karen Joy Fowler
    Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
    custom reader on Canvas