When I first read George Saunders’ fable-like tale, Fox 8, I initially felt amused, then sad, and finally outraged. I also felt a blog brewing – not of the book review variety but of the teaching tool/creativity corner variety. For starters, Fox 8 is less of a charming bedtime story for children – who will no doubt enjoy it – and more of a darkly comic cautionary tale for adults. The titular first-person narrator takes the readers on a journey through his life as a fox who lives and forages with his fellow foxes in the forest. Fox forest life is running smoothly until Fox 8 has his first confusing encounter with humans, which results in conflicting feelings.
When we think about relationships between human animals and non-human animals, we often think of the relationship between guardians and pets. However, there’s so much more to the topic. This week, I’ll continue our series on Digital American Studies by sharing with you some wonderful videos on human-animal studies I found useful for undergraduate classes. Whenever I teach ecocritical theory – for instance my project seminar, “Study & Save: Eco-Critical Theory in Action” – I make sure it always has a practical component. And even in seminars on North American culture, ecocritical topics (e.g. fracking, plastic oceans, deforestation, and loss of species) are always part of the deal.
In recent years, animals have entered university life, and scholars in fields as diverse as art, philosophy, and religious studies approach animals from different angles and methodologies. Animals are to some extent invisible until they enter the realm of the human. Then they become pets, cattle, or laboratory animals.
Are you curious? Could this subject enrich your teaching curriculum? Then why don’t you join us at Leuphana University from January 23 to 25. For further information, including registration details, see the program.