This course rests on the hypothesis that far from being an occasional or marginal concern of the philosophical and literary tradition, the question of the animal is in fact both vital to literary and philosophical history and placed to make it legible and understandable in radically new ways. Moving chronologically from classical Greece to early modern Europe, and from there to the 18th and the 20th centuries, we will see how the questions of the human-animal boundary and of its precarity or permeability, of animal reason or the lack thereof, and of animal habits and propensities have been foundational for virtually every aspect of human thought: the definition of what it means to be human, the conceptualization of the origins and nature of human community and human politics, the function of religion and ritual, the questions of power, law and violence, the problem of reason and rationality, the exploration of sexuality and sexual abjection, the rise of biopolitics and political economy. We will also explore the dialectic of utopia and catastrophe that can be said to define the meaning of the twentieth-century, with particular reference to anti-Semitism and the Shoah and to the drama of Soviet “totalitarianism” -- a historical conjuncture that is explosively configured in the encounter between Kafka’s and Orwell’s animal fictions, and between these and the philosophical discussion of humanism and its limits. We will conclude with reflections on the uses of the literary and philosophical tradition of thinking the animal in the fiction and non-fiction of a twenty-first century (and so-called postcolonial) author like Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee.
Course Schedule and Readings
Part I. Human, Animal, Polis: Classical Foundations
Plato, The Republic (pp. 53-63)
Catherine McKeen, “Swillsburg City Limits: The ‘City of Pigs’ (Republic 370c-372d)” (pp. 70-92)
Plato, The Republic (pp. 117-121, pp. 298-308)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Of the Social Contract (pp. 42-43)
Michel Foucault, “‘Omnes et Singulatim’: Toward a Critique of Political Reason” (pp. 300-311)
Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population (pp. 125-132)
Aristotle, Politics, Book 1 (pp. 11-22)
Aristotle, Politics, Book 1 (pp. 11-22) (continued)
Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer (pp. 1-12)
Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More (pp. 105-112, 119-124)
René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (pp. 94-126)
Part II. Sovereignty, Violence and Reason: Human and Animal in the Early Modern World
Pico della Mirandola, “On the Dignity of Man” (pp. 3-34)
Erica Fudge, “Being Human”, in Brutal Reasoning: Animals, Rationality and Humanity in Early Modern England (pp. 3-38)
R.W. Serjeantson, “The Passions and Animal Language 1540-1700” (pp. 425-444)
Michel de Montaigne, “Apology for Raymond Sebond” (pp. 330-357)
Jacques Derrida, “The Animal that Therefore I am” (pp. 1-35)
Niccolo Macchiaveli, The Prince (pp. 43-47)
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (pp. 106-110)
Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign (pp. 1-27)
Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer (pp. 71-74, 81-86, 91-103)
Edward Sexby, “Killing Noe Murder” (pp. 360-389)
Robert Zaller, “The Figure of the Tyrant in English Revolutionary Thought” (pp. 585-610)
James Holstun, Ehud’s Dagger: Class Struggle in the English Revolution (pp. 305-366)
Part III. Animality, Political Economy and Biopolitics: The British Eighteenth Century
Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees (pp. 63-92)
Ben Dew, “Spurs to Industry in Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees” (pp. 151-165)
Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal” (pp. 304-311)
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (pp. 205-266)
Charlotte Sussman, “The Colonial Afterlife of Political Arithmetic” (pp. 96-126)
Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended” (pp. 23-41, 239-253)
Claude Rawson, “Killing the Poor: An Anglo-Irish Theme?” (pp. 101-131)
Part IV. The Twentieth Century: Animals Between Utopia and Catastrophe
Franz Kafka, “Before the Law” (pp. 3-4); “The New Advocate” (pp. 414-415)
Walter Benjamin, “Critique of Violence” (pp. 236-252)
Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer (pp. 49-62)
Walter Benjamin, “Franz Kafka” (pp. 494-500)
Walter Benjamin, “Franz Kafka (On the Tenth Anniversary of his Death)” (pp. 794-818)
Theodor Adorno, “Notes on Kafka” (pp. 245-271)
Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception (pp. 59-64)
Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal (pp. 1-3, 89-92).
Franz Kafka, “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk” (pp. 360-376)
Fredric Jameson, The Modernist Papers (pp. 96-112)
Fredric Jameson, The Seeds of Time (pp. 122-128)
Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More (pp. 165-188)
Jay Geller, “Of Mice and Mensa: Anti-semitism and the Jewish Genius” (pp. 361-385)
Franz Kafka, “A Crossbreed” (pp. 426-427), “The Metamorphosis” (pp. 89-139), “A Report to an Academy” (pp. 250-259)
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, “Man and Animal”, in The Dialectic of Enlightenment (pp. 245-255)
Andrew Benjamin, “Particularity and Exceptions: On Jews and Animals” (pp. 71-87)
Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz (pp. 41-48, pp. 61-70)
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Martin Heidegger, “Letter on Humanism” (pp. 239-276)
Slavoj Zizek, “Stalinism Revisited: Or, how Stalin Saved the Humanity of Man”, in In Defense of Lost Causes (pp. 211-227, 246-253)
Susan McHugh, “Animal Farm’s Lessons for Literary (and) Animal Studies” (pp. 24-39)
Part V. Late Modern Epigones: J.M. Coetzee
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
Chris Danta, “‘Like a dog…like a lamb’: Becoming Sacrificial Animal in Kafka and Coetzee” (pp. 721-737)
Richard Barney, “Between Swift and Kafka: Animals and the Politics of Coetzee’s Elusive Vision” (pp. 17-23)
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals (pp. 15-69)
Relevant Sources on Library Reserve
Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford University Press, 2003.
Atterton, Peter and Matthew Calarco, ed. Animal Philosophy. Continuum, 2004.
Benjamin, Andrew. Of Jews and Animals. Edinburgh University Press, 2010.
Brown, Laura. Homeless Dogs and Melancholy Apes: Humans and Other Animals in the Modern Literary Imagination. Cornell University Press, 2010.
Calarco, Matthew. Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida. Columbia Univeristy Press, 2008.
Coetzee, J.M. The Lives of Animals. Princeton University, 2001.
Derrida, Jacques. The Beast and the Sovereign, Vol. 1. University of Chicago Press, 2009.
---. The Animal that Therefore I Am. Fordham University Press, 2008.
Fudge, Erica. Brutal Reasoning: Animals, Rationality and Humanity in Early Modern England. Cornell University Press, 2006.
---.Perceiving Animals: Humans and Beasts in Early Modern English Culture. University of Illinois Press, 2002.
---. Renaissance Beasts: Of Animals, Humans and Other Wonderful Creatures. University of Illinois Press, 2004.
LaCapra, Dominic. History and its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence. Cornell University Press, 2009.
Santner, Eric. The Royal Remains: The King’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty. University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Tiffin, Helen and Graham Huggan. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. Routledge, 2010.
Wolfe, Cary. Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal. University of Minnesota Press, 2003.