ENGL 5470: The Early Modern Animal
What role did “the animal” play in the construction of Renaissance humanism, the humanities, even the concept of the human? This course will explore the strategies that early modern texts used to represent, categorize, know, and speak for non-human animals. We will study poems and plays, religious and scientific tracts, works of political philosophy and first philosophy, in order to understand the shifting and contested place of beasts, fish, fowl, and creeping things in the early modern cosmos. The course will also introduce students to foundational work (Derrida, Foucault, Thomas) and recent scholarship (Shannon, Fudge, Boehrer, Steel) in the burgeoning field of Animal Studies. Our questions will be literary, but also ethical, ecological, and metaphysical. Readings will include Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Marvell, Cavendish, Pico, Montaigne, Descartes, Hobbes, Browne, Hooke, and others.