The Craft of Writing – Film Focus
R1A-001 | CCN: 21842
M/W 5:00pm-6:30pm, Dwinelle 235; Screening Wed. 6:30pm-8:30pm, Dwinelle 262 ///
This course considers how animals have been represented in film and other visual works and explores what these representations tell us about animals and about ourselves. Whether as symbols, totems, or metaphors, animals have always been central to how human societies understand their place in the natural order—as Claude Levi-Strauss put it, “animals are good to think with.” But how have these symbolic relationships changed in modern times, as our encounters with animals are increasingly mediated by photographs, movies, zoos, internet memes, and other modern inventions? How does animal imagery respond to, dramatize, or conceal our material reliance on them for food, textiles, and research? How do our media shape our perceptions of “wild” animals versus domesticated pets, and how do our stories about them play on our emotions? We will pursue these and related questions by critically engaging with a diverse blend of films, television programs, and other imagery, and by sampling key readings from the interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies. As students hone tools for critical analysis and develop their skills as persuasive writers, they will be invited to think seriously about the notion of anthropomorphism—the tendency to attribute human character traits to nonhuman animals—and its role in how and why we look at animals.