The Animal Mirror: Representations of Animality (ANTM100)

15 credits

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS MODULE IS ONLY AVAILABLE VIA DISTANCE-LEARNING.

 

From the earliest pre-historic cave paintings, to the international popularity of the contemporary Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, in this module you will explore the diverse ways in which animals have been made the subjects and/or objects of aesthetic appreciation. This will include a consideration of the ways ‘the human’ as subject engages with art as object, together with an exploration of the implications of this relationship in aesthetic and actual terms.

 

Throughout the history of European colonial activity, the representation of animals has had an important role to play in perpetuating dominant ideologies and normalising power relations. In this module you will consider the documentation of human dominion over ‘nature’ in hunting trophies, both photographic and ‘real’ (e.g. taxidermied specimens), as well as the animalisation of native peoples in art, photography and museum exhibits. The module will also enable you to explore the ways specific authors and/or directors and/or artists represent the animal in the human or the human as animal, engaging with or revising contemporary conceptions of the human self. You will explore the way such representations are also informed by, and negotiate with, historical conceptions of the human and the animal and consider what they mean for our conceptions of ‘animal’ (and human!) today.

 

Another key theme is the charge of anthropomorphism in relation to the ways in which animals are represented and consumed. Via an exploration of children’s literature, animated films (notably Disney and studio Gibli), advertising and the discourse of wildlife watching, you will be asked to critically engage with the concept of anthropomorphism and to deconstruct the alleged anthropomorphic representations of animals in these case studies.

 

In terms of fieldwork opportunities, as part of the module you will be required to attend an exhibition (this could be a virtual exhibition or could include a zoo, museum or other event such as an agricultural show) to enable you to think through and apply the theory you have learnt in a practical context.

 

There are no pre-requisites, and the module would be particularly suitable for students on other programmes.