Writing with Animals

English Composition I (ENGL 1101)
School of Literature, Media, and Communication
Georgia Institute of Technology
Fall 2014

Course description: This section of ENGL 1101 begins with the assumption that animals are good to write with. A paraphrase of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’s famous (and arguably mistranslated) declaration that “animals are good to think with,” this evaluative statement calls attention to our remarkable reliance on animals as the stuff of metaphors, images, and figures of speech. This course invites you to make the most of the exceptional discursive power of animals by synergistically employing the WOVEN (Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, Nonverbal) approach to communication. In dialogue with scholarship from the emergent interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies, you will compose presentations, blog posts, annotations, and essays that examine a range of texts and sites of human-animal enmeshment. Emphasizing the development of your critical voice, these projects will ask you to consider philosopher Donna Haraway’s counter to Levi-Strauss’s claim: animals are not just good to think with, they are here to live with. In shifting the focus of interest in animals to lived experience, Haraway suggests that analytical investments in animals are more productively placed in the service of improving animals’ rapidly diminishing place in the world and in our lives. We will test out this possibility as we explore what it means to write, think, and live with animals.

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View course project descriptions:

WordPress blog

Pecha Kucha group presentation

Mediathread videographic essay

Speculative design essay