We explore premodern ways of thinking about classification, sovereignty, religion, the environment, and interspecies cohabitation. How do concepts and practices such as metamorphosis, translation, and virtue work in cultural and biological spheres, in earlier periods and today?
Students will read classics of world literature by Attar, Chaucer, Marie de France, Obeyd-i-Zakani, Ovid, and Shakespeare, among others, while investigating genres of wisdom literature, epic poetry, drama, and political satire. We will consider textual materiality, transmission, and interrelation with images with digitized manuscripts of the Bible, Physiologus, medieval bestiary, and Kalīlah wa Dimnah. In seminar, students will build a basic website to display ongoing multimodal projects and will compose two expository essays: a rhetorical analysis of a medieval animal fable and a literary analysis of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Image: “The Trapped Cat and the Frightened Mouse (Rat?)” from a Kalila wa Dimna. 18th century, Metropolitan Museum, New York. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/453133