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ARAB 323
Born to be Wild: Rethinking Animals in Pre-modern and Modern Texts Fall 2020
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed COMP 323 / ARAB 323 / ENVI 321

Class Details

In the past few months, images of dolphins appearing in the Venetian canals, and wild animals roaming eerie looking post-apocalyptic deserted streets have gone viral. The majority of these images have proven to be fake, however their popularity was witness to people’s hope that we can “reset” the environment and a yearning to reframe animals’ positionality vis-à-vis their habitats and humans. Using critical lenses from ecocriticism and animal studies, we will be exploring texts from non-Western traditions in which animals figure strongly from pre-modern times to the age of the Anthropocene. The focus will be on Arabic, Persian and Turkish texts all in translation. The course will be traversing several genres and texts from Pre-Islamic poetry, the Quran, the 10th century Ikhwan as-Safa’s epistle The Case of Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn, the fables of Kalila and Dimna, Farid ed-Din ‘Attar’s Conference of Birds, travelogues, paintings, contemporary film till we reach recent fiction with cyborgs and drones. Throughout the course, we will be examining themes such as diverse conceptualizations of what it means to be an “animal”, what constitutes’ animal agency and animal subjectivity irrespective of humans and their often utilitarian lens. We will do this by investigating how animals through these texts have been represented, imagined and reconfigured whether allegorically or otherwise as communities and in relation to humans and the environment and the implications of that. Finally, we will explore what a poetics of animal studies in these cultural and literary traditions could look like. The course will consist of multiple forms of evaluation like participation, Glow posts, essays, experiential reflections and creative tasks.
The Class: Format: seminar; This class will be offered remotely synchronously twice a week (75 minutes each session), in addition to prerecorded asynchronous material at times.
Limit: 12
Expected: 10
Class#: 2014
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: The course will consist of multiple forms of evaluation like participation, Glow posts, essays, experiential reflections and creative tasks.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Arabic majors, Comparative Literature Majors, Environmental Studies Majors and Arabic certificate holders.
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 323 Division I ARAB 323 Division I ENVI 321 Division I
DPE Notes: This course deals with different literary traditions and their aesthetics. The approach is both synchronic and diachronic by looking at texts and their texts from different time periods and at different genres. The course will be examining what it means to be an "animal" vis-a-vis human beings and their environment and animal agency in these literary traditions as opposed to the often utilitarian lens that animals have often been viewed through.

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