English R1A

Reading and Composition: Animals and Other People

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2022 Bircea, Jason
MWF 10-11 210 Dwinelle

Book List

Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go

Other Readings and Media

All other readings will be made available online. Possible writers include Christopher Smart, Ann Yearsley, Gilbert White, Robert Burns, Anna Laeitia Barbauld, William Cowper and John Clare.


"How knoweth he by the vertue of his understanding the inward and secret motion of beasts...when I am playing with my cat, who knows whether she has more sport in dallying with me than I have in gaming her."

Michel de Montaigne, An Apology for Raymond Sebond (1569)


Later eighteenth-century verse is populated with animals. Poets in the period penned missives, eulogies, odes and petitions on behalf of dogs, cats, mice, sheep, hares and other animals. The poet Christopher Smart, for instance, dedicated a section of his religious poem Jubilate Agno to praising his cat Jeoffrey: “For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey. / For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.” 

Growing interest in the behavior and inner lives of animals was caused, in part, by the later eighteenth-century discourse of sentimentality, which raised the problem of creaturely feeling and emotion (e.g., can animals suffer?) Another was the emerging discipline of natural history, which, as one naturalist from the period explained, sought to describe “properties, manners, and relations, which [the various products of nature] bear to us, and to each other.”

In this class, we’ll explore the shifting status of animals in later eighteenth-century, British culture. In the final stretch of the course, we’ll read Kazuo Ishiguro’s science-ficition novel Never Let Me Go (2005) and consider the continuing relevance of eighteenth-century conceptions of nature, culture and creatureliness.

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