Speaking Animals: Literature and Interspecies Relations (EAS3411)

30 credits

This module explores the central role of non-human animals in literature, assessing the way human identity is constructed through its difference from animality, how animals are figuratively used to represent human characteristics and concerns, and how the place of animals in human culture is debated. We will begin with ancient texts by Aesop, Ovid and Apuleius before examining animals from Shakespeare to the 21st century. Our investigations will be built around animal species of key cultural significance: the donkey, the horse, the great apes, the nightingale, the dog and the tiger. Through them we will consider literature’s imaginative response to animals as beasts of burden, as close relations, as poetic voices, as companions, and as avatars of the wild.