Animals in 20th and 21st century fiction

Course Dates: 19/07/21 - 21/07/21
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
Location: Online
Tutors: 
Why do authors write about animals? What effect does it have on us as readers when we encounter animals in novels and short stories? From Beatrix Potter to the contemporary novel, this course explores the role of the animal in modern literature. Themes that we will think about together include: animal suffering, animals in depictions of childhood, and animal transformations and dehumanisation.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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SKU
165250
Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £55.00 Concession £42.00

Course Code: HLT35

Mon+Wed, day, 19 Jul - 21 Jul '21

Duration: 2 sessions

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?


This online literature course is about the ways in which modern writers have explored the animal kingdom. Animals can provide a muse, a challenge, a philosophical problem, or an opportunity for radical empathy. Animals are often a vehicle to talk about childhood, about social ills, or about the limits of personhood. Animal writing is also fun, engaging and provokes many questions in its readers. In the process of exploring these texts, we’ll also be thinking about the political and social contexts that have shaped attitudes to animals in the modern world.

Tutor biography:
David Barnes is an academic who has held lecturing positions at the universities of Birmingham and Oxford. His teaching specializes in modernist literature, with additional interests in Victorian writing and contemporary fiction. He held a visiting research fellowship at the University of Virginia and recently produced, wrote and presented the radio series, ‘Weird England’ for Radio 3. David’s essays and criticism have been published by Penned in the Margins, Slightly Foxed Quarterly, Times Literary Supplement, Times Higher Education, The Times, and The Guardian. His poems and short fiction have been anthologised in The Wolf, Intercapillary Space, and the Henningham Family Press. He is currently at work on a major writing project on the city and human-animal encounters in modern London.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

In two three-hour seminars, we will explore, firstly, early twentieth-century animal writing, and then look at post-war and contemporary literary responses to animals. In the first session, we’ll explore early twentieth-century and modernist responses. Beatrix Potter’s children’s stories (like The Tale of Peter Rabbit) might seem uncomplicated, but actually explore the world of boundaries, consequences, crime and punishment in interesting ways. Similarly, the experimental novel, Flush, by Virginia Woolf has a dog as a protagonist, but also addresses questions of class, belonging, and the modern city. We’ll think about what differences there might be between writing about animals for children and for adults. We’ll then take a sharp turn into the nightmarish world of Kafka’s animal parables (‘Metamorphosis’ is the most famous of these).

In the following session, we’ll look at post-war and contemporary writing. In these texts, philosophical problems about relating to animals come to the fore, whether in Seamus Heaney and Alice Oswald’s rural encounters in modern poetry or J.M. Coetzee’s radical writing. We’ll also explore the role of animals in memoir and biographical writing, and will conclude the class with a close-reading of extracts from Aminatta Forna’s 2018 novel Happiness. During the course, we will also be exploring the role of historical, social and political contexts in shaping the ways we have thought and written about animals.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Have a deeper understanding of the place of animals in modern culture and literature
- Be able to talk confidently about a range of literary texts
- Better understand the role of politics, society and culture in shaping attitudes to animals
- Be comfortable reading across very different genres: for example, memoir, nature poetry, fantastic fiction, the contemporary realist novel
- Be able to develop your own ideas on the topic eloquently and creatively.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Some prior literary study might be an advantage for this course, but the most important skills needed are: 1) enthusiasm about books and a willingness to read new things! 2) good listening skills, and openness to free-flowing discussion 3) preparedness: doing the reading and devoting some time to thinking about the topics beforehand.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Mini-lectures followed by small group work and discussion. Work outside class will be the readings for each week.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Extracts from the texts will be provided by the tutor (via online links and pdfs).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

This tutor is also teaching HLT226 Beastly writing in the modern age.
For other literature courses please look at www.citylit.ac.uk./history, culture and writing/literature.

David Barnes

David Barnes is an academic who has held lecturing positions at the universities of Birmingham and Oxford. His teaching specializes in modernist literature, with additional interests in Victorian writing and contemporary fiction. He held a visiting research fellowship at the University of Virginia and recently produced, wrote and presented the radio series, ‘Weird England’ for Radio 3. David’s essays and criticism have been published by Penned in the Margins, Slightly Foxed Quarterly, Times Literary Supplement, Times Higher Education, The Times, and The Guardian. His poems and short fiction have been anthologised in The Wolf, Intercapillary Space, and the Henningham Family Press. He is currently at work on a major writing project on the city and human-animal encounters in modern London.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.