Jul 17, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENGL 619 - Bestial Philosophy: Critical Animal Studies

3 Credit(s)

The classical and medieval bestiary was an encyclopedic account of species, their attributes, and in medieval Bestiarum vocabulum, their moral meaning in God’s book of the world. Animal Studies began in opposition to allegorical readings as such (including anthropomorphized and anthropocentric renderings of the animal) as a differential perspective on the self-other relation. Today, however, with the Posthuman Turn, Animal Studies connects speculative philosophies such as Object-Oriented Ontology with older forms of speculative thought, and queries the Anthropocene and its limits (as in Thing Theory), at the same time that it opens a return to a spiritually-infused understanding of the world in the Spinozan sense. In considering what we’ll call a ‘bestial philosophy,’ we’ll focus on why literary writers have long been fascinated by animals’ world experience as an alternative to the anthropocentric and logocentric universe of our own construction. Animals stand in for a range of sentient life that philosophers such as Spinoza and writers such as Kafka have assumed has been interacting with us and without us all along. We will take a set of representative literary texts and read them in conjunction with a genealogy of sorts of philosophical and theoretical texts in order to understand what Animal Studies has been (both Continental and American strains) and what it is becoming in light of new understandings and sentientism.