AMS 370 • Animals and American Culture
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
A wandering pig played a central role in creating a bicameral legislature in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1644. According to John Winthrop, the colony's first governor, "There fell out a great business upon a very small occasion": a poor widow and a wealthy merchant went to the General Court regarding the disputed ownership of a stray sow. Although popular sympathies rested with the widow, the Court ruled in favor of the merchant, thus prompting the Courts assistants and deputies to divide formally into two distinct legislative houses in order to make the colonys government more representative. This is but one example of the centralif hitherto unrecognizedrole that animals have played in shaping the course of American history. This interdisciplinary upper-division undergraduate seminar explores the place of animals in the social, cultural, economic, and political life of the United States. Topics of discussion include animals in entertainment; hunting; vegetarianism; changing cultural attitudes about nature; wandering animals and property rights; animals and evolutionary theory; the rise of the animal welfare and animal rights movements; laboring animals and the nations move to a motorized economy; animals and war; the growth of pet keeping as a cultural practice and big business; factory farms; the rise of veterinary science; zoos; and more.
Possible Texts Anna Sewell, Black Beauty James Turner, Reckoning with the Beast Jennifer Price, Flight Maps Steve Baker, The Postmodern Animal Susan Jones, Valuing Animals: Veterinarians and Their Patients in Modern America Ingrid Newkirk, Free the Animals: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front Laura Hillenbrandt, Seabiscuit: An American Legend Gregg Mitman, Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Film Elizabeth Hanson, Animal Attractions: Nature on Display in American Zoos