Tag Archives: Animal Studies

Representation. 19 November.



Excellent work on the presentations Kira, Kelsey, Thomas, and Isabelle & nice work on the discussion that followed everyone else. I learned a lot, and the following themes, images, questions on Titus that you all provoked stand out:

  • RSC, 2012

    Barbarism. Kira, “absence of culture, antonym for citizen,” as well as an Onomatopoeia of “bar, bar” or the crude, meaningless phonemes of non Greek speakers. Who gets to decide what language is meaningful and what language is meaningless? The play has a lot of fun answering that question. Consider the following as just some examples of sounds that compete on stage for the audience’s attention: Persuasive, formal rhetoric & blessing/cursing; “the common voice” (1.1.20); hunter’s peal” (2.2.15); Discord in the woods: “The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull” (2.1.127) & “Aaron, let us sit,/And whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,/Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns/As if a double hunt were heard at once” (2.318-20); and, as Hannah shared with us, Lavinia gets to say “O” eight times in 2.3. How does all the racket contrast (or establish the possibility) for Lavinia’s silence? Also, what does Shakespeare say with blood that he cannot say with words?

  • Objectification. Isabelle argued, persuasively, that even though it seems as if Lavinia is converted from a person to a thing in the woods, she was objectified well in advance of her assault (Ex: “Gracious Lavinia, Rome’s rich ornament” (1.1.53).) Thomas pointed us to appeal to “womanhood” (2.3.180) that Lavinia makes to persuade Tamora to spare her. How does this scene compare to other scenes between women have we seen so far this semester? How does the scene compare to other courtroom/trial sequences we have seen in other plays and in other scenes in Titus? Are the women the raw materials of the civilization the play stages (RE: Jeffery Cohen’s “resources” that Thomas pointed us to) 
  • Heroines. Even though Titus’ name is on the book cover, can we (should we) read Tamora and Lavinia as the central figures? Is Tamora a revenger (refer to Kelsey’s helpful checklist)? Is Lavinia a tragic hero? What sorts of mistakes do they make and are they ever able to take responsibility for those mistakes? What sorts of rulers are they? 
  • Horror. Why do audiences, from Rome to the present, like to watch bloody, violence spectacles? Is is the play interested in the difference between watching a real violence (Ex:Roman coliseum where lions rip up people, mastiffs tearing up a bear, or public executions) and a play that represents these events? After the presentations, we might want to turn to Marcus’s reaction to Lavinia to think these about real v. representation.


Presenters: Chan, Bailey, June, Tony

To help focus the Q&A, at the conclusion of the presentation please take five minutes and respond to the following questions:
  • 1. Briefly summarize the topic and/or arguments made by 2 of the presenters.
  • 2. What two slides, from any of the presentations, did you find most effective and why?
  • 3. List a few points that the presentations have in common. What’s surprising about the overlap?
  • 4. Draft one discussion question.



Take five minutes to respond to the following:

What strategies does Titus Andronicus provide audiences for processing trauma or overcoming grief?

Hands: One Place to Look

The word hand(s) occurs 58 times in Titus Andronicus & 36 times in act 3.What purpose does the repetition of hand(s) serve in this scene or throughout the play? Why does Titus cut off his hand? Are the hands more than just props in this scene?


RQ: Titus, Act 2-3 (Trigger Warning)


Please note that Titus Andronicus Act 2 stages sexual violence. How does Shakespeare’s adaptation of Ovid and the response the it illicit in audiences compare to complaints made by students in Literature & Humanities courses Columbia. One student wrote, “the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” I aim to read the text within an ecocritical or ecofeminist tradition that argues objectification and violence sexual assault is always a part of what Jeffrey Cohen calls “resourcism.” Also, why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence?

How do these movie and stage production posters figure the violence at the heart of this play?

Act 2

In Wells’ note to Aaron’s entrance at 2.1, he explains, “In F he is directed to enter alone after an inappropriate ‘fourish,’ transferred from the preceding stage directions in Q1, where it accompanies the Emperor’s departure” (n.2.1.1 p.106). What if the direction is not a mistake? Or, how should we read Aaron as a king?

What sorts of metaphors does Aaron use to describe Tamora and his rise to power? Do the metaphors remind you of others we have seen so far this semester? What are Aaron’s plans?

What motivates the conjunction of martial and sexual violence in 2.1 and throughout the play? Do Chiron and Demitrius threaten Lavinia’s chastity because they are Goths, outsiders? Or, is there something inside Rome that motivates their violence?

Though the rape of Lavinia inherits the stories of Lucretia from Virgil and Philomela from Ovid, why does Shakespeare’s version of the story happen outside? Why is the forest, “Fitted by kind for rape and villainy” (2.1.117) according to Aaron?

So far this semester we have seen several instances of characters traveling from courts into “nature.” How does the the “into the woods” sequence in Titus compare to The Tempest or King Lear?

Compare Tamora’s two descriptions of the forest (2.3.10-30) to her other description of the forest (2.3.101-110). What accounts for the change?

What’s Aaron’s plan?

What sorts of appeals does Lavinia make to Tamora? Why does Tamora refuse to relent?

What metaphorical work does the pit in act 2 perform?

Why do Chiron and Demetrius mutilate Lavinia?

How does Marcus respond to Lavina’s deformity (2.4.1-55). Does Marcus ease her suffering? Does he ease the audiences’ suffering?

Why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence? Why bring it out in the open?

Digital Edition Example (draft)


Below you’ll find the first draft of a Digital Edition that I wrote. Feel free to use it as a model for the blog post you have due on Thursday. I also revised the DE into a second draft called King Lear‘s Eco-Futurity.


From the division of the Kingdoms to the final “Never, never, never!” (24.303), King Lear seems totally sterile. Consider the infertility rings out in Lear’s refrain: “Nothing can come of nothing” (1.81 and 4.126); the way that the rosemary and pins Edgar “strikes” in his “bare arms” suggests nothing can grow in the earth (7.181-82); and the image of the failed graft with which Albany figures Gonoril’s “disposition” (16.32-36 Q1) as just three instances of King Lear‘s barren nature.

And yet, for all the “Never’s,” “Nothing’s,” and “O’s” (24.304), the play teems with animal and vegetable life. There is a veritable assemblage of foxes, horses, cats, adders, vultures, bears, crows, choughs, and all manner of dogs. Add to the menagerie of animals rosemary, samphire, and of course, “rank fumitory and furrow-weeds,/With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,/Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow/In our sustaining corn” (18.3-5), and the play seems less a barren waste and more a seething aggregate of viability. Not only does the play stage vegetable excesses amid the total collapse of civilization, characters constantly attribute ruin to cataclysmic natural events. For instance, Gloucester attributes several crises to “These late eclipses in the sun and moon” (2.101-102), just as Kent credits “the stars/The stars above us” for their dire conditions. Despite the ruin, waste, and nihility with which the play engages its audience, I argue King Lear offers a model for sustainable futures. The prototype for human, nonhuman, and inhuman ecology the play provides is an especially useful resource for 21st century readers. Since we live after radical environmental change, i.e. humans effect the world now more than ever, we need to reconsider the future we have imagined for ourselves. If we look to our past, as Shakespeare looks to his, we can find ways to face our mistakes to develop a more capacious regard for forms of life.

Critical Responses

King Lear has been a regarded as an exemplary instance of the pastoral in English since its inception. In recent years the play has become a key text for Posthumanism. Two key examples of Posthumanist King Lear scholarship are Laurie Shannon’s “Poor, Bare, Forked: Animal Happiness and the Zoographic Critique of Humanity,” from her book, The Accommodated Animal: Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales and Andreas Hofele’s “‘I’ll see their trial first’: Law and Disorder in Lear’s Animal Kingdom,” from his book Stage, Stake, and Scaffold: Humans and Animals in Shakespeare’s Theater.

Though Shannon and Hofele both agree that King Lear engages the animal kingdom as much as human sovereignty, they make two different arguments. Shannon argues XXXXX.  Summarize and compare both authors. Then explain how a synthesis of their argument informs my edition.

Recent Performance History

Animals, vegetables, and minerals are important in two recent production of King Lear.

When John Lithgow played Lear in Central Park two summers ago, one commenter explained how a raccoon crossed the stage while Mr. Lithgow was off of it. The blog provided a record of all sorts of unexpected nonhuman interventions over the course of the production, as well as Mr. Lithgow’s delightful reflections on the production. XXXXX. Develop with citations XXXXX.

Consider also a recent production of the play in London in which the director cast one human and nine sheep. In Lear with Sheep, Develop with citations from page.  Summarize and compare both performances. Then explain how a synthesis of their argument informs my edition.

King Lear, Scene 17 (the text below is cut and paste and illegible. Will need to format using easy bootstrap short code plugin tools such as columns or a table. Also, no links or gloss yet)

Enter Kent and a Gentleman.
Kent. Why the King of Fraunce is so suddenly gone backe,
know you no reason.
Gent. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his
2347.5comming forth is thought of, which imports to the Kingdome,
So much feare and danger that his personall returne was most re
quired and necessarie.
Kent. Who hath he left behind him, General.
Gent. The Marshall of France Monsier la Far.

2347.10Kent. Did your letters pierce the queene to any demonstratiõ

Gent. I say she tooke them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample teare trild downe
Her delicate cheeke, it seemed she was a queene ouer her passion,
Who most rebell-like, sought to be King ore her.
2347.15Kent. O then it moued her.
Gent. Not to a rage,patience and sorow streme,
Who should expresse her goodliest you haue seene,
Sun shine and raine at once, her smiles and teares,
Were like a better way those happie smilets,
2347.20That playd on her ripe lip seeme not to know,
What guests were in her eyes which parted thence,
As pearles from diamonds dropt in briefe,
Sorow would be a raritie most beloued,
If all could so become it.
2347.25Kent. Made she no verball question.
Gent. Faith once or twice she heau’d the name of father,
Pantinglyforth as if it prest her heart,
Cried sisters,sisters, shame of Ladies sisters:
Kent, father, sisters, what ith storme ith night,
2347.30Let pitie not be beleeft there she shooke,
The holy water from her heauenly eyes,
And clamour moystened her, then away she started,
To deale with griefe alone.
Kent. It is the stars,the stars aboue vs gouerne our conditions,
2347.35Else one selfe mate and make could not beget,
Such different issues, you spoke not with her since.
Gent. No.Kent. Was this before the King returnd.
Gent. No, since.
Kent. Well sir, the poore distressed Lear‘s ith towne,
2347.40Who some time in his better tune remembers,

What we are come about,and by no meanes will yeeld to see his

Gent. Why good sir?
Kent. A soueraigne shame so elbows him his own vnkindnes
That stript her from his benediction turnd her,
2347.45To forraine casualties gaue her deare rights,
To his dog-harted daughters, these things sting his mind,
So venomously that burning shame detaines him from Cordelia.
Gent. Alack poore Gentleman.
Kent. Of Albanies and Cornewals powers you heard not.
2347.50Gent. Tis so they are a foote.
Kent. Well sir, ile bring you to our maister Lear,
And leaue you to attend him some deere cause,
Will in concealement wrap me vp awhile,
When I am knowne aright you shall not greeue,
2347.55Lending me this acquaintance, I pray you go along with me.



Visual Rhetoric. Sept 24

L0035582 An Iron 'scolds bridle' mask used to publicaly humiliate
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
An Iron 'scold's bridle' or 'branks' mask, with large nose piece, grotesque ears and two horns, used to publicly humiliate and punish, mainly women, for speaking out against authority. Brussels, Belgium
1550 - 1800 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Nice discussion on Tuesday! We drew out some of the following features from Shrew‘s first act:

  • Physiological/medical valences derived from both the idea that the whole play is framed as cure for Sly’s melancholy (Induction 2.125-32), and the Petrarchan love tropes (love darts) see Lucentio (1.1.218-19)
  • Hannah told us that shrew is the root for shrewd, which opens up ways to consider Katherine that are grounded in the language. According to the OED the term ‘shrew’ can also pertain to men, what’s that about?
  • While there is no way to be sure if the play reflects early modern expectations of the right and wrong ways to be a man or a woman, we can ask: why does this play provoke us to consider general social attitudes toward sex and gender? We compared these ideas to Ferdinand and Miranda’s vows in Tempest 3.2
  • We talked about staging conventions: all male casts; animal bating that was conducted the same theaters where the plays were played; stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte such as Grumio, the pantalone; that the groups of men form a sort-of classic style chorus; and that references to corporal punishments through out the text, such as “To cart her, rather” (1.1.58) suggest “folk performances” such as Skimmington Rides; Cucking Stools; and scold bridles.

Donna Haraway & Animal Studies

Term Definition
Anthropocentrism The distinction human/animal falls short of really differentiating all the different sorts of animals and people on the one hand, and on the other hand, the human/animal divide cannot describe ways the two are always interacting. The line dividing the two categories can be dangerous b/c it authorizes terrible mistreatment of humans and animals.
Companion Species Haraway says maybe looking at loving human/animal relationships might be a good place to start: “Historically situated animals in companionate relationships with equally situated humans are, of course, players in the world” (99). It’s very good to realize that people partner with dogs, horses, cats, cows, etc. to shape the word. But…Haraway argues, that’s not the whole story because human and animal partnership change over time & for her that “becoming with” is a much kinder place to think about relationships (99). To that end she says, “The partners do not precede their relating, all that is is the fruit of becoming with–” (99)
‘Companion’ While “companion species” in ordinary usage doesn’t quite encapsulate the sort of movement she’s interested in, its a really good phrase and she doesn’t want to throw it away. Instead she gets to the bottom of it, by first think through the history of the ways the terms have been used. Overall ‘companion’ denote eating together. And also, perhaps, who eats; who or what can be eaten?
‘Species’ Specre, Latin for ‘too look/behold is at the root of ‘species.’ From its root, Haraway draws out the connection between specre, the root of species, and respecre (or respectus), which is the root of modern English word ‘respect.’ That is to say, respect also means to look again. So Haraway argues that the term companion species already has built into it a movement or futurity that can best describe humans and animals. Or as she explains, “To knot companion and species together in encounter, in regard and respect, is to enter the world of becoming, with, where, who and what are precisely what are at stake” (102).
Applications What might it mean to suggest the of Kate and Petruccio that “the partners do not precede their relating”? There are several instances in Shrew in which human and animal voices are indistinguishable, what are the implications of such confusions? Are there moments in Shrew in which characters ‘look again’ and are then irrevocably changed from that point forward?

Part I. Key Word Search, Visual Rendering, &

Piktochart, ‘How-To’

Please complete the following tasks. Be prepared to cite evidence from the text to support your findings during discussion:

  • Choose a key term from Taming of the Shrew & briefly describe or make note of the passage in which you found it
  • Look up your word in the OED and/or UrbanDictionary, or Brill Renaissance Latin Dictionary
  • Look up your word in Open Source Shakespeare
  • Draw some conclusions about your findings: does usage vary over time; does the word show up in fewer or more plays than you expected; is it more likely to show up in comedies than tragedies; were there connotations you did not expect, etc.?

Part II. Franco Zeffirelli‘s Taming of the Shrew (1967)

2.2 “wooing sequence” (36-48 mins)The_Taming_of_the_Shrew_(1967_film)_poster

While we watch the clip, please consider the following questions:
What’s the relationship between the visual and aural in this scene? Where are the scenes set? Does the character movement, scope of the shots, color composition, and/or lighting enhance the dialogue? Does the composition or adaptation contradict your reading of 2.2?

Etymology.Sept 22.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 6.38.28 PM


We talked about how Shrew is a play deeply interested in the relative status of evidence. In other words, what sorts of evidence are most persuasive, or, even more specifically, is visual, verbal, or aural rhetoric more likely to persuade a person of the truth? Why the emphasis on visual evidence/rhetoric in this play? How does the “Induction” fit with the rest of the play? We talked about Textual Criticism, and ways in editorial practices have different relationship between claims and evidence than Literary Criticism (i.e. close reading & argument driven analysis). We talked about evidence and types of appeals or modes of writing in terms of the assignment Visual Rendering Assignment which is due Sept 29.

Calendar Updates

Blog Post 2, now due Tuesday, Oct 6.

Take minute and answer the following:
Is Katherine a shrew, why? And…so what?

Part I. “Companion Species: Entangling Dogs, Baboons, Philosophers, and Biologists”

Please get into the groups that follow, introduce yourselves to your peers, and then respond to the prompts below. Write down as much as you will need to participate in discussion and be prepared to cite specific instances from the text.

  1. Ainee, Hannah M., Nicholas, & Robert
  2. Alexandra, Jeffery, Danny, & Angeline
  3. Kelsey, Beau, Caroline, Chan, & Thomas
  4. June, Sun, Isabelle, Patrick, Shamala, & Bailey
  5. Kira, Sarah, Madison, Tony, & Hannah P.
  • What does Haraway mean by “companion species”? What steps does she take to define her terms? (i.e. what strategies doe she use to define the terms?) 
  • What does the term “Companion Species” give her that other terms, such as Posthumanism, cannot (102)? Why? 
  • According to Haraway, What “obligation” did Derrida fail to meet with his cat? What kept him from answering the cat’s invitation (103)? What does she suggest What should he (or really ‘we’) have done differently?
For your consideration…

Part II. Key Word Search

Please complete the following tasks. Be prepared to cite evidence from the text to support your findings during discussion:

  • Choose a key term from Taming of the Shrew & briefly describe or make note of the passage in which you found it
  • Look up your word in the OED
  • Look up your word in Open Source Shakespeare
  • Draw some conclusions about your findings



RQ: Shrew 1 & Haraway 97-107



Keep the following questions in mind as you read Act 1 of The Taming of the Shrew, and Donna Haraway’s, “Companion Species” (97-107). The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

Taming of the Shrew Act 1

Does Sly remain on stage for the entirety of the play, or return to play another role? If he does return to play another role, what part would you cast him in? If he stays on stage, how does his presence shape the play’s meaning?

What does Lucentio decide to study, and why? What does Tranio suggest he do instead?

What is the matter of the play according to Baptista’s first lines? What other plots does his decision provoke?

What’s Katherina’s first line? How does she offer a rejoinder to Gremio’s “To cart her, rather” (1.155), and then some?

How does Bianca plan to spend her time till she can get married? Is there any reason to fear that “music, instruments, and poetry,” (1.1.93) will transform her into a shrew?

Do Gremio, Hortentio, Tranio, & Lucentio form a chorus? Do they represent everyday values, or do they muddy everyday values?

How does Hortentio respond to Gremio’s rhetoric?

How do descriptions of Katherina in 1.1 compare with what she does and says herself?

Near the end of act one, Lucentio says, “And let me be a slave to achieve that maid/Whose sudden sight hath enthralled my wounded eye” (1.1.18-19). What sorts of poetic conventions does he draw on here? How does this moment suggest an expectation that there is something inherently dangerous in visual composition?

Does Tranio make Luctentio or does Lucentio make Tranio? Is there any danger in their in plot?

Is Petruccio a villain? What do you make of his relationship with Grumio?

How does Hortensio interpret Petruccio? Does his response to him cast doubts on his ability to judge character?

Donna Haraway, “Encounters with Companion Species” (97-107)

What does Haraway mean when she says, “companion species” (98-99)?

  • Companion: what connotations/denotations does her etymology of the word yield? What does she mean when she says the word is “gustatory” (100)?
  • Species: What does connotations/denotations does her etymology of the word yield? How is this term ”visual” (100-102)?

What are tradition expectations of human-animal relations? What happens to those expectations when we recognize that animals not only “look back at humans” (102), but both our trajectories are irrevocably changed as a consequence of the intersection?

What does it mean to distinguish a response from a reaction? What are the stakes of this discrimination (103)?

What might it mean to consider the absence of a name as something “other than a privation” (103)?

What “obligation” did Derrida fail to meet with his cat? What kept him from answering the cat’s invitation (103)?

What questions about animals does Derrida regard as the “decisive question”? What does questions about animals does Haraway regard as the “decisive question”? Why the difference (105-07)?