English R1A

Reading and Composition: Fiction's Swarm

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2019 Tomasula y Garcia, Alba
MWF 10-11 211 Dwinelle

Book List

Coetzee, J.M.: The Lives of Animals; Haushofer, Marlen: The Wall; Joy Fowler, Karen: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; London, Jack: Call of the Wild & White Fang; Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick: or, The Whale; Ovid: Metamorphoses; Spiegelman, Art: Maus; Taniguchi, Jiro: "The Ice Wanderer" and Other Stories

Other Readings and Media

All other materials will be provided on bCourses.


The perceived divide between humans and other animals has been defined as one of the most important frameworks under which our thoughts and behaviors are constructed. Yet literature—from its earliest examples to today's offerings—is filled with a rich menagerie of fictionalized beasts. From white whales that encapsulate the awesome terror of the nonhuman world to anthropomorphized mice made to represent an oppressed people, animals of all shapes, sizes, and meanings serve a wide variety of roles within fiction's pages. This course will critically examine but a few of literature's creatures—in works from narrative poetry to graphic novels, from ancient Greece to contemporary Japan—to study not only what sorts of "animals" have been written into existence, but also what effects these literary forms of living creatures have had on material species, our own included. As we read, we will consider multiple aspects to how animals, humans, and the relationships between them are portrayed in fiction: what literary and rhetorical devices are used to represent creaturely life; how the social/material constructions of class, race, and gender get embedded into the flesh of fictional beasts; what arguments about the "nature" of living animals, humans included, are made manifest in the written word. With the goal of developing your critical reading and analytical skills, we will devote class time to discussing the course reading through a combination of lecture material, question and answer, and group discussion. We will also dedicate time to preparing for graded essays by building research, writing, and editing skills in weekly writing workshops.

Back to Semester List