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Animals in Science and Society

Instructor: Dr. William H. York

Animals and the Human Condition

The earliest cave paintings reveal that humans have long been curious about animals. Human societies have hunted animals and domesticated them to use them as food, beasts of burden, and even as pets. Humans have also observed animal behaviors and studied their physical structures as objects of scientific inquiry. This course will consider the numerous ways in which humans have interacted with animals in history.

We will investigate a broad array of visual and textual materials to consider the variety of symbols, representations, and stories about animals, in popular culture, as well as efforts to examine animals through science. Ultimately, understanding the interaction between humans will allow us to consider the ways in which humans have constructed meanings for animals and how those constructions influence and reinforce beliefs about the human condition and concepts of what it means to be human.