THINKING ANIMALS INITIATIVE

 

Thinking Animals is a community of faculty and students working to advance the study of animals, human-animal relationships, and the many meanings of animals in human lives. Participating faculty will periodically offer a set of linked courses that introduce students to ways of thinking about animals that are both grounded in particular disciplines and encouraging of interdisciplinary connections.

 

18360

ANTH 252

 The Animal in Anthropology

Yuka Suzuki

M  W  11:50 am-1:10 pm

OLIN 205

SA

D+J

SSCI

Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies  Animals have figured prominently in anthropological writings since the discipline's inception. From Lewis Henry Morgan's portrait of the American beaver, to E. E. Evans-Pritchard's account of the cattle beloved in Nuer society, animals have always been an essential part of how we see ourselves and make sense of the world around us. This course traces the discipline's engagement over the past century with the figure of the animal. We begin by exploring some of the discipline's classic texts in relation to animals, focusing on their role as repositories of totemic power, markers of purity and pollution, and mirrors of social identity. We then turn to contemporary studies of animal-based practices such as whaling, hunting, captive animal display, and conservation as sites of construction for racialized, gendered, and classed differences. The final section of the course focuses on multispecies ethnography, an approach attuned to the entanglements between human and nonhuman beings, and how their livelihoods are shaped by cultural, political, and economic forces. Through a multispecies approach, we consider viral clouds, were-jaguars, laboratory animals, pit bull advocacy, and the militarization of the honeybee among other topics. This course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships.  Class size: 22

 

18421

PHIL 140

 Other Animals

Jay Elliott

M  W  1:30 pm-2:50 pm

OLIN 101

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies  We human beings have learned to think of ourselves as animals, and to think of our pets, our laboratory subjects, wild animals and those we slaughter for meat as "other animals." Yet the lives of these other animals remained profoundly mysterious to us. Can we understand their thoughts, desires and lives? What do we owe them by way of justice, love or sympathy? What should the future of our relationships with them look like? In this course, we will approach these questions through a variety of sources, including works of philosophy, poetry, fiction and history. The course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships.  Class size: 22

 

18116

PSY 363

 wild chimpanzees: Social Behavior in an Evolutionary Context

Sarah Dunphy-Lelii

 T        4:40 pm-7:00 pm

OLINLC 208

SA

SSCI

As our closest living phylogentic relative, chimpanzees are one of the best tools we have for understanding our own evolution. This course will explore the methods and findings of research devoted to chimpanzee natural social ecology, collected from the field over the past 60 years. What conditions and competencies give rise to complex social behavior, and how is this reflected in the physical body (and the physical environment)? We will augment our reading of literature on the complex behavior of non-human apes living in the wild with examples of studies reporting competencies of these animals living in captivity. This course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships. Prerequisites: either Psych 141(Introduction to Psychological Science) or Bio 202 (Ecology & Evolution). Class size: 12

 

18327

WRIT 244

 Imagining Nonhuman Consciousness

Benjamin Hale

 T  Th 1:30 pm-2:50 pm

HEG 201

PA

PART

Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies; Experimental Humanities; Human Rights  Philosopher Thomas Nagel asked, "What is it like to be a bat?" Ultimately, he determined the question unanswerable: A bat's experience of the world is so alien to our own that it remains inaccessible to human cognitive empathy.  That's arguable.  But it is true at least that a bat's experience or that of any other nonhuman consciousness is not inaccessible to human imagination.  In this course we will read and discuss a wide variety of texts, approaching the subject of nonhuman consciousness through literature, philosophy, and science.  We will read works that attempt to understand the experiences of apes, panthers, rats, ticks, elephants, octopuses, lobsters, cows, bats, monsters, puppets, computers, and eventually, zombies. Course reading may include Descartes, Kafka, Rilke, Jakob von Uexküll, Patricia Highsmith, John Gardner's Grendel, J.A. Baker's The Peregrine, Eduardo Kohn's How Forests Think, David Foster Wallace, Temple Grandin, Frans de Waal, Jane Goodall, Thomas Nagel, John Searle, Susan Datich, E. O. Wilson, Giorgio Agamben, and Bennett Sims's A Questionable Shape, among others, in addition to a viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, and possibly other films. This is also a craft class, as each student will produce a substantial project over the semester.  The assignments will be open-ended, open to both creative and analytical works; a major component of the class will be incorporating these ideas into our own writing. This course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships.  Students interested in this workshop must email bhale@bard.edu ASAP (by December 9th) for instructions.  Class size: 15