Professor Joshua Schuster
Winter Half Course.
Many of the major debates in American studies intersect in subtle ways with issues that have come into focus in the recent rise of animal studies. Topics that have been of key interest to American studies such as the frontier, the intersection of nature and industrialization, biological theories of racial and sexual difference, and biopolitical power are now being reconsidered with new attention through situations that directly refer to the relationship between humans and animals. In this class, we will read certain texts of American literature with an eye to how American studies and animal studies share similar problems and contentions. We will be careful in not assuming that animals are ciphers for either the unrestrained soul of America or its domesticated counterpart. Instead, we will try to elaborate on how different readings of animals and specific animal lives appear at the nexus of American politics and cultural production. Some authors we will likely be reading include: Thomas Jefferson, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville Moby Dick, Anna Sewall Black Beauty, Jack London The Call of the Wild, Upton Sinclair The Jungle, Rachel Carson, P.K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Secondary and theoretical sources will likely include: Roderick Nash, William Cronin, Amy Kaplan, Wai Chee Dimock, Donna Haraway, Jakob von Uexküll, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Nicole Shukin.