Results for: Knowing Animals

Knowing Animals

  • Course Level: Graduate; undergraduate with permission
  • Department: History, MAPSS
  • Year: 2021-22
  • Term: Winter
  • KNOW 36071, HIST 35102
  • Brad Bolman

“What is an animal, and are we them?” In “Knowing Animals,” we will approach this deceptively simple question from multiple angles, exploring the diverse ways that humans come to know and differentiate themselves from other animals and the implications of that labor. How can we understand and write about the lived experience of a bat, an octopus, or a hawk? Who decides which species are essential to experimental science, and which are simply edible? Why do we buy canine pharmaceuticals or construct tiger preserves in Oklahoma? The course will explore how hunting, eating, petkeeping, labor, experimentation, and cohabitation with animals contribute to the formation of knowledge. We will draw on scholarship in history, cultural anthropology, philosophy, and critical theory, as well as novels and films in order to do so. The course is meant to serve in part as an introduction to the topics and methods of animal history and animal studies, so we will read foundational texts as well as recent scholarship on the intersections of animality, capital, disability, gender, and race. Students will leave with core competencies in the field as well as—hopefully—a deeper sense of what it means to be human. This course fulfills the elective requirement for a new MAPSS concentration on the Formation of Knowledge https://sifk.uchicago.edu/mapss/.