English 189 - Winter, 2023

Seminar in Literary Studies

Topic: Zoographies: Writing and Reading Animals

Class Information

Instructor: Ziser, Michael
CRN: 23462
Time: MW 1:40-3:00
Location: 248 Voorhies
GE Areas: Writing Experience


Zoographies: Writing and Reading Animals

"Animals are good to think."
-Claude L?vi-Strauss

"If a lion could talk, we would not understand him."
-Ludwig Wittgenstein

This small seminar explores the topic of animals in human culture from the interlinked perspectives of literary history, critical theory, and creative production. Subjects include the long tradition of animal fables and allegories, creaturely presences in children's literature, realist and naturalist accounts of animals, nonhuman point-of-view in narrative, animal voice in poetics, the role of literature in animal welfare campaigns, animals in the food system, and nonfictional genres of animal observation, among other things. In addition to the books listed below, there will be an electronic reader with selections from poets, philosophers, and critics.

Unlike a traditional lecture course--the content and direction of which are usually framed and led by the instructor--a seminar requires individual participants to take significant responsibility for the emphases and outcomes of class meetings. Although no previous experience with the subject matter of this seminar is required for enrollment, prospective students should have a strong curiosity about the material and be ready to contribute their own perspectives on the weekly readings and to share the fruits of their own independent research at every class meeting. This course builds to a long term-paper or creative project on a relevant subject of the student?s choosing.

Note about books:
Hard copies of all books have been ordered through the UCD Bookstore. They have also been placed on electronic Course Reserves through the Library. Digital versions (.epub format) are also available on the course Canvas site under Files > Assigned Course Readings. Choose whichever format is best for you. If you can find a way to afford them (buying used, checking out from the library, etc.) paper copies are always best for your eyes and mind. Any additional readings on the schedule can be found as pdfs on Canvas under Files > Assigned Course Readings.


32% Attendance and Participation (16 x 2%; out of 18: skip/drop any 2)
10% Discussion Leading (one time in the quarter)
10% Weekly writing (10 x 1%) due Fridays by 11:59pm
48% Final Paper / Project (12-15pp or equivalent) due Monday 20 March by 11:59pm via Canvas


The Spell of the Sensuous , David Abram (978-0679776390)
Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow, Ted Hughes (978-0571099153)
Black Beauty , Anna Sewell (978-0451531742)
White Fang, Jack London (978-0486817958)
H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald (978-0802124739)
Cow, Beat Sterchi (978-1786697479)
The White Bone, Barbara Gowdy (9780312264123)
In the Shadow of Man, Jane Goodall (978-0547334165)