The current state of the ecological circumstances in which the earth findfs itself has been called the Anthropocene, a term that indicates that humans have now come to change natural processes on a global scale. The term has also been criticized because it is not just ‘man in general’ who did this but culturally and politically specific actors, countries, or continents. This is why the current state of affairs have forced us to rethink the very status of mankind, of humans as animals, of the potential that cultures have in preserving or destroying life on this planet. The resulting ecological crisis also forces us to rethink key notions of animality, of the just, or justifiable, or legal balance between the affordances granted to animals (including the human one) and other natural entities. The course focuses on the legal, moral and political dilemmas that are raised by the ecological crises and the new modes of thinking about this that are explored by contemporary art, literature, cinema, games and activism.
Our guides will include novels, (Coetzee, The lives of animals), stories (Orwell, To shoot an elephant), movies (Chicken Run), documentaries (Meet your meat), essays (Andri Snaer Magnason, On time and water), performances (Fritz Haeg, ‘Edible estates’) and works by Annalee Davis. Background literature ranges from Dao-ist ideas on the balance between man and nature, to a 10th century Arabian philosophical treatise (The case of the animals againt man), to Igbo ‘omenala’, to Jeremy Bentham, Peter Singer, Brian Massumi, Donna Haraway, Mary Mellor, Malcolm Ferdinand, Kwasi Densu and others.
Per session, students are required to give an oral presentation on course material. At the end of the course they present as poster presentation.
After completing this course students: have gained insight in recent debates about law, ecologies, animal rights and the role of art in debates about these issues understand key concepts used in contemporary theoretical and philosophical debates about ecological balances are able to assess literature, films, and other works of art, for what they contribute to the debates, and to reflect on the larger issues that they raise are able to apply their knowledge to current affairs and cultural texts have developed their ability to reflect on the aforementioned issues in oral presentations, and in a poster presentation with a focused, sharply defined research question, or a scholarly underpinned and feasible plan of action.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
(1) Participation (10%)
(2) Oral presentation (20%)
Each week, a group of students is asked to give an oral presentation on that week’s readings and films. (3) Poster presentation (70%)
Partcipation (10%); Oral presentation (20%); Poster presentation (70%)
Blog or Video Essay (70%)
Inspection and feedback
Students will receive written or spoken (recorded) feedback on their work.
All literature will be made available through Brightspace.
Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.
Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal.