Zirker, Angelika, PD Dr.
Animal Studies
Zeit: Mo 14-16
Ort: Neuphilologicum, 306
Beginn: 24.10.2016
In the past few years, the field of Animal Studies (also in the sense of human-animal interaction) has developed with major theoretical contributions by Peter Singer, Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, and J. M. Coetzee. We will look at the historical development of the genre of animal (auto)biography and discuss it against the background of Animal Studies. In 1751, the first animal biography was published in England: Francis Coventry’s Pompey the Little, the life story of a lapdog. From this moment on, animal biographies as well as autobiographies flourished, coming to a peak by 1800 but also living on in texts like Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877) . In all animal (auto)biographies we find different layers of meaning: for one, there is often a satirical approach to human behaviour, commented on by the distant observer, the animal; moreover, human behaviour is being criticized on an ethical basis, accompanied by an attempt to create awareness of the animals’ ability to feel pain and to suffer. In a concluding step, we will also address possible limitations of this approach, e.g. when it comes to multi-layered interpretations and ambiguous texts.

Please buy and read in advance (some of the texts will be made available online on moodle before the beginning of class; there will also be a reader of theoretical texts):

Coventry, Francis. Pompey the Little. 1751. (PDF)

Anon. The Story of Dick, the Little Poney. 1800. (PDF)

Sewell, Anna. Black Beauty. 1877. London: Penguin, 1994.

Woolf, Virginia. Flush. 1933. Ed., intr. and notes Kate Flint. Oxford: OUP, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-953929-1

Coetzee, J. M. The Lives of Animals. 2001. Ed. and intr. Amy Gutmann. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. ISBN 978-0-69-107089-6

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