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Cultural Studies

For this essay I would like you to focus on a single movie of your choice that d

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For this essay I would like you to focus on a single movie of your choice that depicts a speculative or (somewhat) fantastical space of human/animal communication. I’ve suggested a number of possible films below, but you should feel free to pick one not on this list, too. The key thing is that the film should involve human/animal communication (not just animals talking amongst themselves), although that communication need not be verbal. If you’re not sure about a film you’d like to focus on, please get in touch with me to discuss.
Your essay should draw on the concepts and ideas we’ve explored in this unit so far, as well as your own independent research. I’ve provided a list of suggested readings (end of page) that you might draw upon.
The essay question (above) is deliberately open-ended as there will be quite different things to say about this general topic depending on the film that you select. As we are discussing in this unit, rationality and language have often been seen as the basis of a firm distinction between humans and other animals, with all sorts of consequences for how particular living beings are valued and treated. In these films, these distinctions sometimes become fuzzy and fluid. In this way, they help to provide interesting insights into the status quo.
What kinds of possibilities for imagining and crafting better human/animal relationships does this open up? You might focus on the possibilities for the characters in the film: the kinds of alliances, challenges, exploitations, and friendships that are entered into, as well as the difficult processes of miscommunication and trust building. Which animals and which humans are able to communicate with one another. Why? You might also (or instead) focus on the audience watching the film: do these imaginative excursions help viewers to appreciate animal life in new ways, or do they re-entrench the notion that animals are savage brutes, or perhaps even that ‘real’ animals are irrational and mute and only those found in movies can possibly have meaningful things to say? What kinds of lessons or ideas about our everyday animal companions might such a film offer?

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