Maria E Garcia
Basic theoretical issues in the comparative history of ideas as a disciplined mode of inquiry; examination of representative historical figures and problems. Primarily for majors.
VIOLENT INTIMACIES: ENCOUNTERING THE ANIMAL. Welcome to CHID 390. The CHID colloquium is a reading and discussion course that has traditionally focused on theoretical and practical problems of interpretation and knowledge production. In this course, we will examine ethnographic, philosophical, and historical accounts, as well as theoretical essays and literary texts that demonstrate a range of cross-cultural interpretive strategies. Throughout the quarter we will also explore the “politics of interpretation and representation”: the ways in which different perspectives and practices are tied to intellectual, political, social and economic power. Our readings and discussions this spring will focus on the “question of the animal” or what I call the “violent intimacies” of human-animal encounters. The “question of the animal” is one that feminists, philosophers, scientists, activists, and many others have been grappling with for centuries. Over the past decade, however, the interdisciplinary field of animal studies has expanded greatly. Interest in animal studies, which had been building since at least the 1964 publication of Ruth Harrison’s Animal Machines, gathered increased steam in 1975 with Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation, and reached new audiences with the 1997 lectures given by Jacques Derrida (subsequently published as The Animal That Therefore I Am). Receiving the sustained attention of scholars in philosophy, literature, history, anthropology, geography, political science, and other disciplines, animal studies, in the words of a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “has become a force to be reckoned with.” This course will introduce students to some of the key scholars writing about human-animal encounters. We will engage the different approaches used to think about human-animal relationships and entanglements, and explore broad themes like animality and difference, science and representation, captivity and spectacle, and the power of witnessing. In addition to engaging films, texts, and each other, we will take a field trip to a local farm sanctuary. Please note that one of the seminar assignments is to write a brief ethnography of a visit to the Woodland Park Zoo or the Seattle Aquarium. This will require that you spend at least 2-3 hours in either the Zoo or the Aquarium. This course employs three interconnected critical practices: reading, talking, and writing. The first objective of the course is to expose students to a wide range of readings that deal, explicitly or implicitly, with problems of interpretation and representation. Some of these texts are quite intellectually challenging, and all of them will require careful, thoughtful, and detailed reading. The second critical practice is engaging in verbal discussion, which serves to create and sustain a learning community. One of the things I hope you will gain from this class is an enhanced ability to carry on a conversation about your own, and others’, ideas. This is also a perfect context in which to “think out loud” and develop your thoughts and ideas through productive and supportive discussions. Finally, you will write regularly in response to the readings. Writing is a crucial component of academic thinking, and is a practice we will spend much time developing.
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