Animals or their parts are ubiquitous - they are traded for food, companionship, clothing, research, entertainment, and sport. Animals are living beings that have the legal status of personal property. This dual status of both living being and personal property creates a paradox of thought about how animals fit within western societies and cultures. Contemporary debates concerning the question of the animal tend to become entrenched around this bifurcation, with one side emphasizing the animal state of being, and the other, emphasizing their status as property. In this course students examine cultural and societal influences that affect the way that animals are understood within western society. Students explore the laws affecting and relating to animals, public policies that support the status quo versus social movements that challenge it, theoretical and philosophical perspectives relating to our conceptualization of animals (e.g. Foucalt's theory of power, Regan's subject-of-a-life, speciesism, Francione's abolition, feminist writings, etc.), creative non-fiction and fiction that addresses the question of the animal, and the ethics of the use of animals. Students examine trends toward future change.
Prerequisites: Junior or Senior standing. Recommended: any law or legal studies course.