The Inhumanities

Teaching Animal Studies

with 2 comments

This year, for the first time as far as I know, the university at which I teach offered an undergraduate course in animal studies in the Department of Law. (I understand that a second course is being planned by the Department of History.) Fortunately for me, I get to teach the course, the syllabus can be found here. Presently, the course is offered as “first year seminar,” which means that enrollment is capped at thirty-five (hardly a “seminar”!) and is limited to first year students. All first year students in B.A. programs are required to take a first year seminar. As we approach the end of the first semester of a two semester course, I’ve begun to wonder what should be the single take-home message the students receive in a class such as this, especially given that they will most likely not be in a position to discuss animals in any of their other classes as they work their way through a degree. Like most first year students, mine are not prepared to engage in any form of serious thought or reflection–on the whole, they seem more interested in my dietary habits than the material as such. Perhaps that will change as we move into the next semester where we will spend our time looking at “issues” rather than at “theory.” If you were (or are) teaching an undergraduate animal studies course, what do you want your students to get out of it?


Written by Craig McFarlane

November 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Pedagogy

2 Responses

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  1. I’m currently teaching a freshman seminar called “Animal Texts.” I hope to engage the students with the material but am afraid my diet and such things will prove to be an issue. We will see. I am reading Fontaine’s Fables, Foer’s Eating Animals, Christopher’s the Bestiary, and Shelley’s Frankenstein. I would really love to see your syllabus for your course. Unfortunately I could not access it through that link. I’m dumb.

    I would really like the class to function as a way for students to begin questioning their assumptions as well of course!

    Suggestions welcome.

    captain furious

    November 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm

  2. There is a word missing in the link to the syllabus.

    J Rodolfo

    November 18, 2009 at 9:04 am

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