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Animals in Film
ENVS 319
Spring 2025
Section: 01  

Some of the oldest known visual art--the paintings on the walls of Chauvet Cave--appear to depict animals in motion. Today, 36,000 years later, humans are still deeply fascinated with depictions of animals and their actions, from television documentaries to animated films to viral Internet videos. John Berger argues in his famous essay "Why Look at Animals?," "animals are always the observed," while the "fact that they can observe us has lost all significance. They are the objects of our ever-extending knowledge." The history of film provides many examples to support Berger's claim. But can film also help us understand how animals see us, or the rest of the world? And what can film tell us about how we see and attempt to understand other animals? Through an examination of the history of animal depictions in documentary, animated, and live-action fictional films, this course will explore these questions and provide a deeper understanding of how the cinematic medium shapes our relationships with other species. Films may include Electrocuting an Elephant, The Hunters, Babe, The Bear, White God, Kedi, Stray, Gunda, and Zootopia.

Readings will include: John Berger, "Why Look at Animals?"; Andre Bazin, "What is Cinema?"; Anat Pick, "Vegan Cinema"; Anat Pick and Guinevere Narraway, "Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human"; Gregg Mitman, "Reel Nature: America's Romance with Wildlife on Film"; Cynthia Chris, "Watching Wildlife"; Helen Hughes, "The Contemplative Response"; and Akira Mizuta Lippit, "Electric Animal: Toward A Rhetoric of Wildlife."

Examination and Assignments: A final project, film review paper, and weekly reflection papers.

Consent: No special consent required.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: NSM ENVS
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ANST-MN)(ENVS-MN)(ENVS)
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on JUL-15-2024
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