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Teaching Human-Animal Studies

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching Human-Animal Studies"— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching Human-Animal Studies
Margo DeMello, PhD The Animals and Society Institute Teaching Human-Animal Studies

2 What is Human-Animal Studies?

3 Human Animal Studies explores…
the spaces that non-human animals occupy in human social and cultural worlds the interactions humans have with other animals. The symbolic uses of non-human animals the ways in which animal lives intersect with human societies. The ways in which humans are dependent on other animals The ways in which humans construct, in part, their identities through other animals

4 A Rapidly Growing Field
Hundreds of college courses in over 200 colleges in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, and Israel Almost 3 dozen degree and certificate programs Over a dozen journals, both print and online A half dozen book series Over two dozen organizations Eight veterinary programs Over two hundred law programs An annual summer fellowship program

5 A Rapidly Growing Field
Sub-units or sections devoted to HAS in the following disciplinary organizations: The American Sociological Association the American Psychological Association the American Historical Association the Society for the Study of Ethics and Animals the Association of American Geographers the American Academy of Religion

6 We interact with animals on a daily basis, in every area of our lives
Why Teach HAS? We interact with animals on a daily basis, in every area of our lives

7 We eat them

8 We wear them

9 We use them for medical research and testing

10 We use them to provide services to us

11 They are part of our religious beliefs and practices

12 We watch them on TV

13 And in the movies

14 And online

15 And at the circus, zoo, and marine mammal park

16 They are in our art

17 In our symbols

18 In our books

19 And in our language

20 We live with them as family members

21 Given all of the ways in which our lives are surrounded by animals, the question is really: Why Wouldn’t We Teach HAS?

22 Teaching Human-Animal Studies

23 Why have the lives of animals, and human-animal relations been historically omitted from scholarly study? Human superiority contributed to ignorance They have been objects of study but not subjects of a life There are dangers associated with giving animals subjectivity and individuality

24 This brings up two of the problems faculty may encounter: Convincing your dean/dept. chair/other faculty that you are not teaching an animal rights course or that you are not teaching a silly course Exposing students to information that challenges their own beliefs and understandings about humans, other animals, and society

25 Create a new course? HAS can be taught as stand-alone courses in disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences HAS material can be added as sections into many courses in those same fields

26 What should you use for Readings?
Students can be assigned full books, chapters from books, or readers created by the instructor

27 One Textbook

28 Three excellent interdisciplinary readers

29 Other Excellent Collections
Armstrong, Susan and Richard Botzler The Animal Ethics Reader. London, England: Continuum. Donovan, Josephine and Carol Adams, eds Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals. New York: Continuum. Kalof, Linda and Brigitte Resl, eds A Cultural History of Animals. Oxford and New York: Berg. Manning, Aubrey and James Serpell, eds Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives. London: Routledge. Podberscek, Anthony L., Elizabeth S. Paul, and James A. Serpell Companion Animals and Us. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Regan, Tom and Peter Singer, eds Animal Rights and Human Obligations. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. Rothfels, Nigel, ed Representing Animals. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

30 Interdisciplinarity Because HAS is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, courses can easily draw from material from many other fields History, Ethics, Geography, Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Media Studies are all fields that can be borrowed from for other disciplines

31 There is also fantastic material on Youtube
Using Films There are vast numbers of films, both documentary and feature films, that can be used in the classroom There is also fantastic material on Youtube Some of the images and material in some of these films are extremely difficult to watch, and instructors must choose them carefully and facility class discussions thoughtfully

32 Some Films to Start With
“Dogs that Changed the World” “Holy Cow” “Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry” “A Conversation with Koko” “Ape Genius” “Ayumu & Ai” “Chimp Talk” “Animal Minds” The Ape: So Human” “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” “Katrina’s Animal Rescue” “The Natural History of the Chicken” “Cane Toads” “Shelter Dogs” “Peaceable Kingdom” “Animal Appetites”  “The Urban Elephant” “Lolita: Slave to Entertainment” “Chimpanzees: An Unnatural History” “The Laboratory Rat” “One Rat Short” “Animals as Divinities” “Vicktory to the Dogs” “Behind the Mask: The Story of the People who Risk Everything to Save Animals” “War Dogs” “The Witness”

33 Depends on discipline and interests of instructor
Course Structure Depends on discipline and interests of instructor In Margo DeMello’s sociology class, we begin with a section on the social construction of the animal

34 What is it?

35 Wild rabbit? Pet rabbit? Lab rabbit? Meat rabbit? Fur rabbit?
Wild rabbit? Pet rabbit? Lab rabbit? Meat rabbit? Fur rabbit? Easter rabbit? Pest? How we classify this animal is determined by our society, our social position, and our relationship, if any, to this animal. And how the animal is classified, in turn, determines both how this animal will be used, and what protections this animal deserves under the law.

36 Animal Classification
In the Chinese encyclopedia The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge it is written that animals are divided into: ‘… (a) those that belong to the Emperor, (b) the embalmed ones, (c) those that are trained, (d) suckling pigs, (e) mermaids, (f) fabulous ones, (g) stray dogs, (h) those that are included in this classification, (i) those that tremble as if they were mad, (j) innumerable ones, (k) those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush, (l) others, (m) those that have just broken a flower vase, (n) those that resemble flies from a distance.’ Jose Luis Borges ‘The Analytic Language of John Wilkins’ in Other Inquisitions

37 Who swims with the tuna? In an essay called "Who Swims with the Tuna", David Quammen asks: why do we worry about trapping dolphins in tuna nets, and not worry about the tuna trapped in tuna nets? The killing of dolphins is a national outrage; the killing of tuna is a given. Furthermore, on our grocery shelves nowadays we find cans of a product called dolphin-safe tuna. But no tuna-safe dolphin. But why?

38 Your Classes Can Include
Historical and Comparative Perspectives

39 Your Classes Can Include
Animals as Philosophical and Ethical Subjects

40 Your Classes Can Include
Animals as Symbols/ Animals in Language/ Representing Animals

41 Your Classes Can Include
Animal Emotions, Intelligence and Reflexivity

42 Your Classes Can Include
Animal Assistants and the Human-Animal Bond

43 Your Classes Can Include
Working with Animals

44 Your Classes Can Include
Attitudes toward other Animals

45 Your Classes Can Include
Animals as Pets

46 Your Classes Can Include
Animals as Food

47 Your Classes Can Include
Animals as Entertainment

48 Your Classes Can Include
Animals as Scientific Objects

49 Your Classes Can Include
Violence to Animals and Humans

50 Your Classes Can Include
Shared Oppressions

51 Your Classes Can Include
The Animal Protection Movement

52 Other materials you might use
Photos, cartoons and other images Poetry Folktales and myths Literary excerpts News stories Humor “Real” animals

53 The earth trembled and a great rift appeared, separating the first man and woman from the rest of the animal kingdom. As the chasm grew deeper and wider, all other creatures, afraid for their lives, returned to the forest - except for the dog, who after much consideration, leapt the perilous rift to stay with the humans on the other side. His love for humanity was greater than his bond for other creatures, he explained, and he willingly forfeited his place in paradise to prove it. Native American folktale

54 Well—one at least is safe. One shelter’d hare
has never heard the sanguinary yell of cruel man, exulting in her woes. Innocent partner of my peaceful home, Whom ten long years’ experience of my care Has made at last familiar; she has lost Much of her vigilant instinctive dread, Not needful here, beneath a roof like mine. Yes--thou may’st eat thy bread, and lick the hand That feeds thee; thou may’st frolic on the floor At evening, and at night retire secure To thy straw couch, and slumber unalarm’d; For I have gain’d the confidence, have pledg’d All that is human in me to protect Thine unsuspecting gratitude and love. If I survive thee I will dig thy grave; And, when I place thee in it, sighing, say, I knew at least one hare that had a friend. From “The Garden” by William Cowper (1785)




58 Challenging Questions
Why is it ethical to eat animals? Why can’t we kill other humans if it serves our own interests? How intelligent are other animals? What if animals could use human language? Can animals have pets? What are our obligations, if any, to other animals?

59 For far more information:

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