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Ewa Domanska

Spring 2008 - CASA 324 - Wed, 6.15-9.05 pm, EDUC 208


This course will provide students with an overview of current concepts and methodologies for studying human/non-human relations. Through close readings of works produced by (mostly) continental philosophers, this course will focus on animals and things as one of the key categories of non-human subjects in the contemporary human sciences. We will explore such topics as: agency of non-human subjects; rethinking of the category of the social; an ethical approach to the study of animals and things; animals and things as others. We will also discuss specific epistemological approaches developed within the framework of posthumanism, such as Agamben's approach to animals, Braidotti's zoë, Haraway's significant others, Latour's collective of humans and non-humans, Pickering's sociology after humanism, Bostrom's transhumanism.

Readings will  include, among others, works by Giorgio Agamben, Rosi Braidotti, Nick Bostrom, Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Emmanuel Levinas, Andrew Pickering.



Attendance is mandatory. Students who miss more than three meetings (except for illness or others serious matters) will not be graded. Students are expected to read assigned readings carefully and participate in discussions. A 15 pages final paper is required. Its topic will be chosen by the student himself/herself. It can draw upon work being done in other classes but must utilize the materials of this course as well.



1. Introduction: overview of the course

2. The Posthuman Future

  • Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future. Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution . New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.
    • Jürgen Habermas, The Future of Human Nature , trans. by Hella Beister and William Rehg. Polity Press, 2003.
    • Henryk Skolimowski, “Problems of rationality in biology,” in Studies in the Philosophy of Biology , ed. by Francisco Jose Ayala and Theodosius Dobzhansky . Berkeley : University of California Press, 1974.
    • Gísli Pálsson, “Human-Environmental Relations: Orientalism, Paternalism and Communalism,” in Nature and Society , ed. by Philippe Descola and Gisli Pálsson. London and New York : Routledge, 1996: 65-81.

3. From Society to Collective of the Human and Non-Human (Bruno Latour)

  • Bruno Latour , “When Things Strike Back: A Possible Contribution of ‘Science Studies' to the Social Sciences.” The British Journal of Sociology , vol. 51, no 1, January/March 2000:107-123.
  • Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory . Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2005 (“Introduction”, “Third Source of Uncertainty: Objects too Have Agency” and „Conclusion”: 1-17; 63-86; 247-262).
  • Bruno Latour, „Do Scientific Objects Have a History? Pasteur and Whitehead in a Bath of Lactic Acid”. Common Knowledge , vol. 5, no 1, 1993: 76-91.
    • Bruno Latour, “A Collective of Humans and Nonhumans. Following Daedalus's Labirynth”, in his, Pandora's Hope. Essays on the Reality of Science Studies . Cambridge Mass. ; London : Harvard University Press, 1999: 174-215.
    • Bruno Latour, “How to Bring the Collective Together”, in his, Politics of Nature. How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy . Cambridge , Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2004: 53-90.

4. Technology, Science and the Social (Andrew Pickering)

  • Andrew Pickering, “ After Representation: Science Studies in the Performative Idiom”. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association , vol. 2 (Symposia and Invited Papers), 1994: 413-419.
  • Daniel Breslau, “Sociology After Humanism: A Lesson from Contemporary Science Studies”. Sociological Theory , vol. 18, no. 2, 2000: 289-307 [and discussion: Andrew Pickering, “The Objects of Sociology: A Response to Breslau 's ‘Sociology After Humanism,” ibidem: 308-316; Daniel Breslau, “Forbid the Forbidding: A Rejoinder to Andrew Pickiering,” ibidem: 317-319]
  • Andrew Pickering, “The Mangle of Practice: Agency and Emergence in the Sociology of Science.” The American Journal of Sociology , vol. 99, no. 3, November 1993: 559-589.
    • Mark Peter Jones, “Posthuman Agency: Between Theoretical Traditions”. Sociological Theory , vol. 14. no. 3, November 1996: 290-309.
    • Andrew Pickering, “Decentering Sociology: Synthetic Dyes and Social Theory.” Perspectives on Science , vol. 13, no. 3, 2005: 352-405.

5. Zoe as Non-Human Life (Rosi Braidotti)

  • Rosi Braidotti, Transpositions. On Nomadic Ethics . Cambridge : Polity Press 2006 (fragments).
    • Rosi Braidotti, “Met(r)amorphoses: becoming Woman/Animal/Insect,” in her, Metamorphoses. Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming. Cambridge : Polity Press, 2002: 117-171.

6. The “Anthropological Machine” (Giorgio Agamben)

  • Giorgio Agamben, The Open. Man and Animal , trans. by Kevin Attell. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.
    • Jacques Derrida, “'Eating Well' or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida,” in Who Comes After the Subject? ed. by. Nancy and Connor. New York: Routledge, 1991: 96-119.
    • Cary Wolfe, “In the Shadow of Wittgenstein Lion: Language, Ethics,” in Zoontologies. The Question of the Animal , ed. by Cary Wolfe. Minneapolis , London : University of Minnesota Press, 2003: 1-57.

7. Non-Human Significant Otherness (Donna Haraway)

  • Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto. Dogs, People and Significan Otherness. Chicago : Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003.
    • Donna Haraway, The Haraway Reader . New York and London : Routledge, 2004 (fragments).
    • Rosi Braidottti, “Posthuman, All Too Human. Toward a New Process Ontology.” Theory, Culture and Society , vol. 23, no. 7-8, 2006: 197-208.

8. Humanist Ethics and the Animal (Emmanuel Levinas)

  • Emmanuel Levinas, “The Name of a Dog, or Natural Rights” and Peter Atterton, “Ethical Cyncism”, in Animail Philosophy. Essential Readings in Continental Thought , ed. by Matthew Calarco and Peter Atterton. London : continuum, 2006: 47-61.
  • John Llewelyn, “Am I Obsessed by Bobby? (Humanism of the Other Animal),” in: Re-Reading Levinas , ed. by Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley. Bloomington and Indianapolis : Indiana University Press, 1991: 234-245.
  • David Clark, “On Being ‘The Last Kantian in Nazi Germany '. Dwelling with Animals after Levinas,” in Animal Acts: Configuring the Human in Western History , ed. by Jennifer Ham and Matthew Senior. New York : Routledge, 1997: 165-198.
  • Barbara Jane Davy, “An Other Face of Ethics in Levinas.” Ethics and the Environment , vol. 12, no. 1, 2007: 39-65.

9. Animals and the Holocaust

  • David Sztybel, “Can the Treatment of Animals be Compared to the Holocaust.” Ethics and Environment , vol. 11, no. 1, 2006: 97-132.
  • Nathan Sanza, “(Im)possible Witness: Viewing PETA'a ‘Holocaust on Your Plate.” Animal Liberation Philosophy and Policy Journal , vol. 2, no. 1, 2004: 1-20.
    • Marjorie Spiegel, The Dreader Comparison: Human and Animal Slaver. Mirror Books, 1997.
    • Giorgio Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz. The Witness and the Archive. New York: Zone Books, 1999 (fragments).

10. Transhumanism (Nick Bostrom)

  • Nick Bostrom, “A History of Transhumanist Thought.” Journal of Evolution and Technology , vol. 14, no. 1, 2005: 1-25.
  • Nick Bostrom, „Transhumanist Values.” Review of Contemporary Philosophy , vol. 4, May 2005: 87-101.
  • Nick Bostrom, “In Defence of Posthuman Dignity." Bioethics, vol. 19, no. 3, 2005: 202-214.
  • Nicholas Agar, “Whereto Transhumanism? The Literature Reaches a Critical Mass.” Hastings Center Report , vol. 3, no. 3, 2007: 12-17.