FS 102

FS 102: The Human Animal
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday 11:00-11:50
Arter Hall, Room 216
Instructor: Katharine Wolfe
Office Hours: MWF 12:00-2:00 P.M.
The course explores human life as a form of animal existence. We will read works of philosophy,
literature, and primatology that consider what it means to be human and contemplate what makes
human beings different from other animals. We will attend to the complex moral and intellectual
lives of other animals, and consider questions concerning the ethical treatment of non-human
animals. Additionally, we will discuss how certain social groups are dehumanized through
association with the animal and the ethical, social, and political problems this poses. To conclude
the semester, students will share their own independent research on a topic related to animal life
in a four-day series of student-run symposium sessions.
Learning Objectives:
The second-course in the FS sequence, FS 102 builds on skills acquired in FS 101 and prepares students
for FS 201. In particular, this course’s learning objectives include:
1. To participate in a sustained conversation with other academic writers and speakers on topics
pertaining to animal experience, animal capacities, animal ethics, and questions of social justice.
2. To generate a thesis that addresses a clearly defined problem.
3. To support a thesis with appropriate reading and evidence.
4. To communicate in progressively complex and nuanced ways about the course’s guiding themes
and topics.
Week 1
Wednesday, Jan. 20th: Introduction
Friday, Jan. 22nd: Franz Kafka’s “Report to an Academy”
Week 2:
Monday, Feb. 1st: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 1, Ch.1-8
Wednesday, Feb. 3rd: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 1, Ch.9-13
Friday, Feb. 5th: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. II, Ch.1-6
Week 3
Monday, Feb. 8th: T.B.A.
Wednesday, Feb. 10th: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. II, Ch. 7-9
Friday, Feb. 12th: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. III (Chapters T.B.A.)
Week 4
Mon., Feb. 15th: Alphonso Lingis’s “The Religion of Animals”
Wed., Feb. 17th: Mark Twain’s “The Lowest Animal”
Friday, Feb. 19th: Frans de Waal’s “Sympathy”, pg. 41-62
Week 5
Monday, Feb. 22nd: Frans de Waal’s “Sympathy”, pg. 62-78
Wednesday, Feb. 24th: Frans de Waal’s “Sympathy”, pg. 78-88
Friday, Feb. 26th: Complete Essays Drafts Due; Peer Review Workshop
Week 6
Monday, Feb. 29th: First Essay Due; Film Screening: Koko: A Talking Gorilla
Wednesday, Mar. 2nd: Michel de Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond, pg.12-26
Friday, Mar. 4th: Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond, pg. 26-38
Week 7
Monday, Mar. 7th: Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond, pg. 38-48
Wed., Mar. 9th: Descartes’ Letters & Plumwood’s “Descartes and the Dream of Power”, pg. 104-111
Friday, Mar. 11th: Plumwood’s “Descartes and the Dream of Power” pg. 111-119
Week 8
Monday, Mar. 14th: Val Plumwood’s “Being Prey”
Wednesday, Mar. 16th: Vandana Shiva’s “Democratizing Biology”, pg. 447-453
Friday, Mar. 18th: Vandana Shiva’s “Democratizing Biology”, pg. 453-463
Week 9
Monday, Mar. 28th: Complete Essay Drafts Due; Peer Review Workshop
Wednesday, Mar. 30th: Second Essay Due; Library Research Session
Friday, Apr. 1st: Thomas Nagel’s “What is it Like to be a Bat?”
Week 10
Monday, Apr. 4th: Thomas Nagel’s “What is it Like to be a Bat?”, cont.
Wednesday, Apr. 6th: Temple Grandin’s “A Cow’s Eye View”
Friday, Apr. 8th: Frans de Waal’s “Anthropomorphism and Anthropodenial”
Week 11
Monday, Apr. 11th: Barbara Smut’s “Encounters with Animal Minds”
Wednesday, Apr. 13th: Tamarack Wildlife Center “Birds of Prey” Presentation
Friday, Apr. 15th: Rosemarie Waldrop’s “Alarms and Excursions”
Week 12
Monday, Apr. 18th: Complete Essay Drafts Due; Peer Review Workshop
Wednesday, Apr. 20th: Third Essay Due; J.M. Coetzee’s “The Philosophers and the Animals”
Friday, Apr. 22nd: J.M. Coetzee’s “The Philosophers and the Animals”, cont.
Week 13
Monday, Apr. 25th: Student Symposium
Wednesday, Apr. 27th: Student Symposium
Friday, Apr. 29th: Student Symposium
Week 14
Monday, May 2nd: Student Symposium
*Please note that this schedule is provisional, and is revisable subject to our pace and interests.
Course Assignments
1. Writing Portfolio
Students will create a writing portfolio over the course of the semester consisting of a minimum of twelve
short pieces of writing. Some of these pieces of writing will be developed out of writing exercises begun
in the classroom, while others will begin independently at home in response to class readings and/or
topics of discussion. Each piece of writing should be 1-2 pages in length.
2. Short Essay Assignments
Students will be required to write 3 short essays (4-6 pages in length) in this course. These essays should
offer both an interpretative exposition of course reading as well as a critical and creative reflection on the
topics addressed. Students will have the opportunity to revise these essays following peer-review
workshops. Detailed instructions will be handed out in class.
3. Student Workshops
Each student will work collaboratively with a group or a partner to design an interactive workshop on an
assigned reading for the class. Developing an outline for this workshop is a requirement, yet the workshop
itself must be conducted extemporaneously. A successful workshop will show a collaborative effort
among students, and not just the combined labor of multiple individuals.
4. Symposium Presentations
Students will work in groups of four or five to develop a research topic and to compose a series of
interlocking, well-researched presentations on that topic for their peers. Each student’s individual
contribution should be roughly ten minutes in length, and each student should be prepared to answer
critical questions raised by others in the classroom. An outline will be required, although the presentation
itself should be extemporaneous.
5. Participation
Student engagement and open discussion is highly valued in this course. Students are encouraged to share
their interests, concerns, and questions on a daily basis, and class discussion will readily follow ideas and
issues introduced by students. Good listening is also a valued part of participation, and students will be
expected to demonstrate thoughtful attention to the voices of their peers as well as an investment in
democratic dialogue in the classroom, ensuring that all students’ voices are equally heard.
Portfolios and Peer Review Assignments: 15%
Short Essay 1 &2: 15% each
Short Essay 3: 20%
Workshop Presentation: 15%
Symposium Presentation: 20%
Participation: This is a discussion-based, seminar-style course in which student engagement is key.
Accordingly, any student who misses 4 days of class will have their final grade reduced by a fraction of a
grade (e.g. from B to B-), and any student who misses 7 or more days of class will have their final grade
reduced by a full letter grade (e.g. from B to C). The same grade reductions will apply to students who
come to class without having read the required reading material. Please note that students generally do not
need to notify the instructor of absences due to short-term illness, sports events, travel, etc. as every
student is automatically excused for three class days. While students who do not attend class and do not
keep up with our reading schedule will have their grades reduced, students who make exceptional
contributions to a flourishing learning community within the classroom will have their final grades
adjusted upwards by a fraction of a grade (e.g. from B to B+).
Late Policy:
Late essays received within one week of the assignment deadline will receive a fractional grade
deduction. Late essays received more than one week late but less than two weeks late will receive a full
grade deduction. Essays will not be accepted for credit after two weeks from the deadline.
Required Texts
The Human Animal Course Reader is the only text required for this course. The course reader is
available through the campus bookstore.