Instructor: Dr. Peter Anderson

“Coevolution shaped the bodies, temperaments, and culture of animals.” Edmund Russell (2014)

“Animal … life does not always behave as humans want.” Dolly Jørgensen (2014)

This course examines the place of animals in history. Taking a historical perspective, we will explore the diverse and various entanglements between humans and non-human animals. Inspired by Dolly Jørgensen’s (2014) argument that much of history has been shaped “not by human hands,” we will look both at how humans and other animals have co-evolved through domestication and human-centric management regimes as well as how the reality of animals living their own lives beyond human control de-centre and re-shape human experiences and expectations.

Topics will include the roles and place of animals in: domestication and domesticity; food and agriculture; taxidermy and museum displays; Indigenous and settler polities; scientific research; and, as anthropomorphic characters in popular culture. We will also trace the evolving boundary between nature and culture through the changing ways humans have understood non-human animals.

Historically focused, this course draws on the multi-disciplinary fields of animal studies, environmental humanities, and science and technology studies. This course welcomes students from the Department of History as well as those studying in disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, to think critically about how we, as humans, have come to position ourselves in relation to other animals, in particular, and the wider world, in general.