Nonhuman in Literature and Culture

English 433/ English 833

The Nonhuman in Literature and Culture

Prof. Wai Chee Dimock

Spring 2016


Office Hours:   Tuesday, 2:15-4:00 p.m.

Office:   LC 417

Phone:   432-2228



Nonhuman life forms in fiction and poetry from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, including plants and animals, “legal persons” such as industries and corporations, large-scale phenomena such as the market and the Internet, war and environmental catastrophes, as well as intelligent machines and extraterrestrial aliens.





Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (Norton)

Emily Dickinson, Final Harvest

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

Elizabeth Bishop, Collected Poems

Louise Erdrich, Original Fire

Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Octavia Butler, Dawn

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl

Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2

Dave Eggers, The Circle







Jane Bennett, “Systems and Things: On Vital Materialism and Object-Oriented Philosophy,” in The Nonhuman Turn, ed. Richard Grusin, 223-40.


Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the end of the World (2013), 1-54.



Jan 27      Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)




Jacques Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I Am (2008), 3-23


Brian Massumi, “The Supernormal Animal,” in The Nonhuman Turn (2015), 1-18




Feb 3       Emily Dickinson, Final Harvest




Bruno Latour, “A Collective of Humans and Nonhumans,” in Pandora’s Hope (1999), 174-215


Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter (2010), 94-109


Louis Rutledge, “Emily Dickinson’s Arthropods,” American Entomologist (2003): 70-74.





Feb 10      Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)




  1. P. Thompson, “Time, Work Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,” Past and Present 39 (1967), 56-97




Feb 17    Elizabeth Bishop, Collected Poems




Kim Fortuny, “Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘Pink Dog’ and other Nonhuman Animals,” Textual Practice (2015): 1099-1116



Feb 24       Louise Erdrich, Original Fire (2003)




Phantom Past, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American Culture and History, ed.

Colleen E. Boyd & Coll Thrush (2011), vii-xl




Mar 2       Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing (1994)




Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal (2004): 63-70, 75-77




March 9     Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)




Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991), 149-82


Ursula Heise, “From Extinction to Electronics: Dead Frogs, Live Dinosaurs, and Electric Sheep,” in Zoontologies, ed. Cary Wolfe (2003), 59-82.



March 30    Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)




Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity(1990), 1-34.


John Plotz, “The Story’s Where I Go: Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin,” Public Books (2015)




April 6     Octavia Butler, Dawn (1987)




Itasha Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy Culture (2013)


Chimera’s Children: Ethical, Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Human-Nonhuman Experimentation, ed. Calum MacKellar and David Albert Jones (2012), 105-132.



April 13    Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl (2009)




Arjun Apparadurai, “Gastro-Politics in South Asia,” American Ethnologist (1981): 494-511


Jane Bennett, “Edible Matter,” in Vibrant Matter, 39-51




April 20    Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)




Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, “Becoming Music” in A Thousand Plateaus


Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman (1999), 1-24, 261-72.




April  27   Dave Eggers, The Circle (2013)


Wendy Chun, “Crisis, Crisis, Crisis: or, The Temporality of Networks,” The Nonhuman Turn,








*  Class presentation, 5-10 minutes (please email the outline to Prof. Dimock the night before)


*  Short essay, 5 pp

(Due: Feb. 17)


*  Long essay, 12-18 pp

(Outline due: April 6.    Paper due: April 27)


*  Students taking the seminar to fulfill a pre-1900 requirement must write the long essay on pre-1900 authors.


*  Discussion forum on digital platform:

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