CPLT190-2: Fresh Sem: Literature

Topic: The Philosophical Animal

August 23, 2017 - December 5, 2017
DaysTimeLocationInstructorGERCreditOPUS #
10:00am - 11:15am
Callaway Center N109
Meighoo, Sean
Appropriate for First Year students.

The title of our course plays on the classical philosophical definition of the human being as a “rational animal.” This definition presumably establishes a clear distinction between the human and the animal, even as it classifies the human as a specific kind of animal. In our course, we will reconsider this philosophical distinction. Not only will we consider how the concept of the animal has been formulated within the discipline of philosophy, but we will also consider how the discipline of philosophy itself has been founded on the conceptual containment of the animal. Our course thus broaches the following question: Is it possible to think about the animal philosophically, or does the animal expose the very limits of philosophical thought?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part of our course will focus on the discourse of “animal liberation” within Anglo-American philosophy. Our assigned readings will cover the full text of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. The second part of our course will focus on the discourse of “anti-humanism” within Continental philosophy. Our assigned readings will include excerpts from selected texts by Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray, and Hélène Cixous. Over the period of the semester, we will also view in class the video documentaries In Defense of Animals: A Portrait of Peter Singer and The Secret of Life, Pt. 6: The Mouse That Laid the Golden Egg, as well as the feature films Food Inc., Chicken Run, Freaks, and Island of Lost Souls. Although our class discussions will focus on our assigned readings and in-class viewings, we may also draw on material from outside our course (including literature, film and television, the visual and plastic arts, and music and the performing arts) in critically reassessing the philosophical distinction between the human and the animal.


* Peter Atterton and Matthew Calarco (eds.), Animal Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2004), ISBN 978-0826464149z* Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, rev. ed. (New York: Harper Perennial, 2009), ISBN 978-0061711305

All other assigned readings will be made available in electronic format on Course Reserves.


* Four short essays (2-3 pp. each, 40% total);* Long essay (10-12 pp., 40%);* Attendance and participation (20%).

The schedule of courses on O.P.U.S. is the official listing of courses, including days and times they meet and the General Education Requirements they satisfy. Students should use course descriptions as general guidelines. Course requirements, grading details, book lists, and syllabi are subject to change.