Week 4 Framing Questions

Seminar Texts

  • Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. 1915. Lindenhurst, NY: Tribeca Books, 2011. Print.
  • Sax, Boria. “Animals as Tradition.” The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings. Eds. Linda Kalof and Amy Fitzgerald. Gordonsville, VA: Berg Publishers, 2007. 270-277. Print.
  • Wells, Paul. “What do Animals Mean?” The Animated Bestiary. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009.  60-92. Print.
  • Ladislaw Starewicz,The Revenge of the Motion Picture Cameraman, 1912, 13 min
  • Winsor McCay, Gertie the Dinosaur, 1914, 12 min
  • Disney Studio, Steamboat Willie, 1928, 7 min
  • Disney Studio, Just Dogs, 1932, 7 min
  • Caroline Leaf, Metamorphosis of Mr. Samsa, 1977, 10 min
  • Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, When the Day Breaks, 1999, 10 min
  • Iain Gardner. Akbar’s Cheetah, 1999

Framing Questions:
Respond to each of the following questions with a paragraph.

  1. How do the “pure animal” (Wells, 51) qualities of the “vermin” (Kafka, 3) serve Kafka’s narrative/rhetorical purposes? Why employ a non-human animal to tell this story? Use examples from the text to support your ideas.
  2. According to Wells, “the plasmaticness of the animated form” (42) makes animation especially well-suited to express “bestial ambivalence.” Explain how Caroline Leaf’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novella might provide support for this idea. What additional examples from other films we’ve viewed can you think of?
  3. Wells proposes that juvenilization and sentimentalization (“Disneyfication”) create a “portal by which to access a more informed relationship about animals and animality” (81), especially in children. Recalling Angela Carter’s “Animals in the Nursery” from Week 2, how do you see this supported and/or problematized by the literary and film texts from this and previous weeks? Use examples to support your ideas.
  4. Begin conducting cultural research on the animal you are studying. Identify and describe instances of that animal represented in at least three of the categories of tradition defined by Boria Sax in “Animals as Tradition.” Reflect on how your understanding of the animal you are studying is informed/facilitated/challenged by these representations.
  5. As a program, we’re investigating the ways that our relationships with non-human animals are influenced by representations of these animals. In what ways have you noticed that animals are “absented altogether, not operating as a referent at all” (Wells, 84), “given their subjectivity” (85), or some blend of these extremes? Give examples from the literary and film texts we’ve studied so far and describe the effects of these representations on your understanding of non-human animals and of yourself: In what ways do these representations help to bridge Berger’s “abyss” or widen it?

Seminar, Week 4—9:00am, Thursday, April 26.

Formatting Requirements

  • Bring 2 hardcopies to seminar.
  • Number each response (1-5).
  • Name, date, week #, and program title.
  • Number and staple multiple pages.

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