SPAN-459 Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in the Hispanic World
Fall for 2016-2017
This course will focus on Animal Studies, a branch of Ecocriticism, a discipline that focuses on how cultures and human self-understanding construct and in turn are constructed by the non-human world, as well as on issues of literary representations of nature. The course will examine the meaning of “the animal” as the foundation on which prevalent notions of the human and the humanities rely. Science and our knowledge of animals’ lives have recently called into question the traditional definition of “the human”—as living beings that possess thought, consciousness, and language. These characteristics, it is argued, are not exclusively human, and yet they have served to exclude animals. The theoretical reevaluation of “the human” and humanism from the perspective of animal studies emphasizes the way animals resist our analytical tools and our aggressive, Enlightenment-inspired ways of knowing. It also focuses on the theoretical flaws in the dualistic humanist arguments that radically separate non-human and human animals. As a result, a process leading toward a post-animal and post-human sense of ethics and of the world is underway. The “turn to animals” in art and in theory envisions a different understanding of what we humans are—not as beings opposed to animals, but as animals. The class will approach this debate from a multidisciplinary, multimedia perspective. In addition to some key theoretical texts dealing with the "turn to animals"—by Jacques Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Giorgio Agamben, Kari Weil, and others—we will analyze literature, photography and film, primarily from Spain and Latin America. Authors, photographers, and filmakers that we will cover include: Cervantes, Juan Valera, Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, Edgard Neville, Ramón J. Sender, Fernando Savater, Leopoldo Lugones, Ernest Hemingway, Bill Viola, Frank Noelker, Fernando Alegría, Daniel Samper Pizano, and Benedikt Erlingsson.
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