Why Look at Animals?

ENGL 221: Research and Writing

Fall 2020

Boris, the Point Defiance Polar Bear swimming and playing
Boris (RIP), Point Defiance Park, Tacoma WA. Photo: Adela Ramos.

As the course title suggests, ENGL 221 is about learning to write about research. It is meant to be an extension of the first-year writing course and a transition into field-specific research-based writing. We will focus our attention on moves and strategies that tend to work across a range of writing contexts as we investigate a central interdisciplinary theme: animals. In particular, we will think critically and with compassion about the place we assign to animals when we capture them in stories, photographs, film, dioramas, aquariums, zoos, and shelters to investigate a set of urgent questions: How do art and science shape our relationships with animals? How do institutions teach us to care for certain species while ignoring others? Do the stories we tell about animals bring us closer or pull us further apart from them? Can we avoid anthropomorphizing animals? We will explore these questions reading theory from several disciplines, looking at art and photography, and visiting the Point Defiance Zoo. The course is divided into two main units: Capturing Animals and Framing Animals.