English R1A

Reading & Composition: Inhumanity

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2012 Tazudeen, Rasheed
MWF 1-2 189 Dwinelle

Book List

Byatt, A.S.: Angels and Insects; Flaubert, Gustave: The Temptation of Saint Anthony; Kafka, Franz: The Metamorphosis; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein

Other Readings and Media

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (selections); Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man (film); A course reader with selections from Gillian Beer, Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Donna Haraway, Vickie Hearne, Timothy Morton, Arne Naess, Friedrich Nietzsche, Benedict de Spinoza, and others. 



“Nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X that remains inaccessible and undefinable for us”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature and scientific and philosophical thought posed a challenge to the common belief in the inherent superiority of human over nonhuman life.  As the work of Darwin and other naturalist scientists before and after him decentered the place of the human, a new literature attempted to represent a world not shaped by human intention, artifice, logic, will, and desire.  Many authors and poets adopted a non-anthropocentric perspective in their works, the perspective of the inhuman, the monstrous, and the creaturely, in order to call into question dominant understandings of life, species, the environment, and the human-nonhuman divide.  Our course explores this changed scientific, philosophical, and literary landscape with an eye towards the complexities of how inhumanity, in all its amorphousness and indifference to reason and rational understanding, can be thought by a human consciousness and inscribed into language.

That said, the primary goal of our class is to improve your ability to inscribe complex ideas and interesting arguments into  language.  We will concentrate on mechanics and style, learn how to read closely, formulate arguments, gather evidence, and organize claims into persuasive essays.  Course assignments will include a minimum of 32 pages of writing divided among a number of short essays. 

Back to Semester List