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F14 Thornburg - ENGLISH 125 - Thinking with Animals

Humans use animals in a variety of ways: for food, clothing, transportation, biomedical experimentation, entertainment, companionship, and ritualistic purposes. We also use animals “to think” with. That is, we use our interpretations of animal bodies and lives to define what it means to be human, and to assert who we are not by distinguishing ourselves from non-humans. In this course we will think critically about our interactions with animals, from talking a walk with the family dog to observing an elephant at the zoo, or from encountering chicken on a dinner plate to arguments for and against using non-human animals in biomedical experimentation. Throughout the term we will engage critically with representations of, and enter into arguments about, animals as products and producers, mysterious and knowable, members of groups (or packs, or herds) and individuals, and philosophical and ethical subjects. We will examine the shifting borders between “human” and “animal,” and will discuss what it means to think with animals in an effort to encounter animals on their own terms. This is first and foremost a writing course, and you will have ample opportunity to practice and refine your writing throughout the semester. We will approach writing as a process, and see writing projects through from the initial brainstorming stage to the final draft, with all the necessary steps in between. We will also explore a variety of strategies for reading and analyzing texts, and developing arguments of intellectual depth that can be used throughout your academic careers, and beyond. More specifically, you will develop your skill at close reading, articulating responses to the arguments presented in published scholarly writing, and research. You will also receive instruction in writing mechanics and style, and produce substantive revisions of each major paper. We will form a community of curious and committed readers and writers who will hone our reading and writing skills, practice the art of giving constructive feedback in peer workshops, and above all, refine our thinking and improve our writing. At the end of the academic term, each of you will be prepared to complete a variety of writing tasks with skill and confidence.

This photograph depicts a scene at a zoological park, showing a group of people standing by a railing looking downwards into a pool with a walrus. 
Garry Winogrand
New York City
gelatin silver print on paper
13 7/16 in x 9 1/16 in (34.13 cm x 23.02 cm)
Gift of Stanley T. Lesser, A.B. 1951, J.D. 1953
Bull Prepared for Castration (?)
albumen print on paper
6 3/4 in. x 9 in. ( 17.1 cm x 22.9 cm )
Gift of Margaret and Howard Bond
Elliott Erwitt
Scratchers, Kyoto, Japan, from "Recent Developments"
gelatin silver print on paper
14 in. x 11 in. ( 35.5 cm x 27.9 cm )
Gift of Lawrence and Carol Zicklin
Heinrich Aldegrever
The Labors of Hercules: The Labors of Hercules: Cerberus (one of the set of 13 p
engraving on paper
3 3/4 x 2 11/16 in. (9.4 x 6.8 cm);22 3/16 x 18 3/16 in. (56.2 x 46.04 cm)
Museum Purchase
A blonde girl standing on top of a horse in a field.
Anne Hughes
Girl on Horse
c-print on paper
16 x 20 in. ( 40.64 x 50.8 cm )
Gift from the Collection of David S. Rosen MD, MPH
Laton Alton Huffman
After the Buffalo Run, North Montana
colotype print on paper
9 15/16 in. x 7 15/16 in. ( 25.3 cm x 20.2 cm )
Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Michael Fauman
Laton Alton Huffman
Saddling the Wild Horse
colotype print on paper
9 15/16 in. x 7 15/16 in. ( 25.2 cm x 20.2 cm )
Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Michael Fauman
A female figure sits on an elephant, both of them facing left. The female's head has a halo surrounding it. The background is dominated by a green hill and cloudy evening sky.
Artist Unknown, India, Rajasthan, Jaipur School
Page from an Indian zodiac manuscript: Princess Mounted on an Elephant
ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
11 1/8 in x 7 15/16 in (28.2 cm x 20.2 cm);11 1/8 in x 7 15/16 in (28.2 cm x 20.2 cm)
Gift of Professor Walter M. and Nesta R. Spink
Elliott Erwitt
Felix, Gladys and Rover, New York City, from "Master Prints Volume I"
gelatin silver print on paper
19 15/16 in. x 24 in. ( 50.7 cm x 60.9 cm )
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sheldon Sobel
The skeleton of a camel lies in the foreground of this photograph, while scattered groupings of figures on camelback dot the desert landscape in the background. 
Pascal Sebah
albumen print on paper
14 in x 18 7/8 in (35.56 cm x 47.94 cm);18 3/16 in x 22 3/16 in (46.2 cm x 56.36 cm)
Transfer from the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
A girl holding a hen in both of her arms, looking directly into the camera.
Dan Nelken
Nori with her Favorite Hen, Delaware County Fair
c-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
10 in. x 10 in. ( 25.4 cm x 25.4 cm )
Gift from the Collection of David S. Rosen MD, MPH
Close-up view of two dogs, one fully outfitted in a canine spacesuit, the other with face and front paws uncovered. 
Dmitri Baltermants
Mishka the Space Dog is Being Dressed, While Tsyganka the Other Space Dog is Already Dressed
gelatin silver print on paper
11 in x 14 in (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Agah, Class of 1989 (BBA)


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Creative Commons by-nc-sa (University of Michigan Museum of Art)

Last Updated

April 7, 2020 6:15 p.m.


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