knowing animals through literature

Reading literature with animal characters and images is about seeing the animal world, but also about acknowledging that how we read and interpret literature can be significantly different when we view any story or play or poem from the perspective of considering the animals in it. Literature is about us as humans, but it is also about the “other.” Knowing the animal “other” (and examining our relationship to that “other”) enlightens and enriches what we know about animals and ourselves and, by analogy, about human-animal “others” like the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, etc.“If we overemphasize animals’ separateness from us . . . we are at just as much risk of moral error as if we overemphasize our similarity by projecting onto them needs, desires, or interests that are distinctly our own.”from Donaldson and Kymlika, Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, 38Some possible prompts for your essay:Here are some questions to prompt a thoughtful thesis statement or question for your essay:Remember, these questions and your answers must relate to the literary work you are choosing to focus on.• What does your literary work say or imply about rights should animals have? Should these rights extend to all animals? Or should attractive animals,or useful animals, or animals with DNA close to ourshave more rights than other animals?• Based on your literary work, what—if anything—makes human-animals “special,” and what are the consequences of this for human and non-human animals?• As portrayed in your literary work, do animals have emotions or thoughts? To what extent is this portrayal accurate or realistic, and to what extent is it metaphoric? And how does the kind or quality of intellect or emotion figure into how animals are treated in the literary work—or how they should be treated?• Describe the ways in which the non-human animal is treated in your work of literature. How does the portrayal affect how you relate to that animal, or to animals in general? How is the sympathetic imagination engaged? What literary techniques manage to accomplish this?• What aspects of the portrayal of non-human animals in your literary work lead readers to see them differently? (Among thing to consider here: realistically describing animals, or metaphorizing, symbolizing, fantasizing, anthropomorphizing, zoomorphizing them, etc.) What are the potential consequences for characters (and for readers?) ofseeing how animals are portrayed in your literary work?• What modes of communication form the relationshipsbetween human and non-human animals in your literary work? Are these modes of communicationdifferent from human-to-human relationships? Are they better? Or worse? Does this matter? And how?Regardless of which work you choose to write about or which of the above questions you might address, your essay should include a response to the following questions:• What does literary art add to an understanding of animals, and of how human-animals relate to them?• What does literary art contribute to humanrelationship to animals and/or to what that relationship should be?Procedure:Your essay should have a thesis statement or question that is submitted on time, and clearly identifiable in your introduction. This should befollowed by three or four supporting points (your outline) that should be clear, and should be reinforced by specific examples and passages from the work you chose and from other sources, including the secondary materials we read in class.