In 1789, British philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote: "The question is not, 'Can they reason?' nor, 'Can they talk?' but, 'Can they suffer?'" This question, which challenged the social and legal norms of the 18th century that denied sentience to non-human animals, has influenced disciplines across the social sciences and humanities to focus on what has more recently become known as, "the question of the animal." Bentham's question has sparked centuries of debate about the sentience of non-human animals and our relationship to them. In this course, we will examine a range of theories and representations of "the animal" to understand the desire to tame or objectify animals (through zoos, factory farming, and taxidermy), as well as why they are often conceived of as guardians of inaccessible experience and knowledge, and how the human and its various gendered, classed, and racial manifestations have been conceived of through and against notions of animality. Readings may include Poe, Kafka, Derrida, Bataille, Haraway, and Coetzee (among others).