COURSE DESIGN AND INSTRUCTION
(Courses designed by Kathryn Gillespie, unless otherwise noted. Syllabi available upon request.)
FGSS 238/SISP 238: Witnessing Animal Others: Mourning, Haunting, and the Politics of Animal (After)lives
Spring 2018, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University; Format: 19-person seminar
Witnessing, mourning, and haunting are frameworks that make political the lives and deaths of human and nonhuman others. Bringing these frameworks into conversation, this course will explore the following questions: What does witnessing and grieving animal lives and deaths show us about economic logics, racialization, and species hierarchies that form the foundation of contemporary social relations? How does the emotional become political in these contexts? What are the limits and possibilities of witnessing and mourning as political acts? How is witnessing distinct from spectatorship or voyeurism? What power dynamics exist in witnessing? What do different rituals or practices of mourning say about the mourner and the subject being mourned? What further action does witnessing or mourning provoke or demand? How do conceptualizations of haunting help to theorize and inform political practices of witnessing and mourning? Central to these questions is a consideration of the way histories track forward and haunt the present—how racialized, gendered, and anthropocentric histories shape contemporary social and economic relations.
The course will use these theoretical frames to explore a series of empirical examples, such as: What does it mean to witness and mourn the settler-colonial histories that haunt the present in daily practices of ranching and farming animals for food? How are settler-colonial histories implicated in the phenomenon of animals killed on roads (innocuously termed roadkill) through the development of the US railroad and interstate highway system and through land use change and habitat destruction? What does witnessing the captive animal in the zoo tell us about the imperialist histories of the zoo where humans and animals have been exhibited? What does witnessing or mourning do for the ghostly specters of ‘spent’ dairy cows (lively-yet-soon-to-be-dead commodities) moving through the farmed animal auction yard and for their commodity afterlives born through slaughter and rendering? How does art act as a form of witnessing, for instance, through photographers like Chris Jordan documenting the afterlives of plastic in the bellies of albatrosses on Midway Island? Throughout the semester, we will use art, fiction, poetry and memoir to explore these concepts of witnessing, mourning, and haunting in the context of animal lives and deaths. The course will be heavily discussion-based.
SOC 201: Social Problems
Summer 2017, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, Washington Corrections Center for Women, credits through Tacoma Community College; Format: ~20-person seminar
A macro-sociological approach to the study of social problems with special emphasis on the effects of institutional change in the economic, educational, family, political, religious, and other systems of contemporary human societies.
This course explores what it means to study social problems from a sociological perspective. Using a feminist care theory lens, we will work together to understand how are individual experiences shape, and are shaped by, broader social and historical forces? How do structural forces like political economy impact social problems of healthcare, the food system, climate change, natural disasters, labor, housing, poverty? How are socially constructed sites of difference – e.g., race, gender, class, etc. – embedded in the way these social problems impact lived experiences? We will use theories relevant to sociology and central sociological concepts to understand social problems. Through an analysis of different social problems impacting society, students will have the opportunity to not only learn about empirical details of social problems, but also learn how to theoretically analyze these problems and make connections between personal experiences and larger structural forces that perpetuate these problems. The course concludes with conversations about the politics of care and living a feminist life and how these approaches might respond to social problems.
FGSS 330/SISP 330: Race, Science, Gender, and Species
Spring 2017; 2018, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University; Format: 15-person seminar
What does it mean to be human or animal? How are these socially constructed lines drawn, redrawn, enforced, and contested? How are categorizations and contestations surrounding humanity and animality a concern for feminist scholars? How does critical theory help us to understand the (at times) uneasy intersections—or “dangerous crossings,” as Claire Jean Kim calls them—where race, species, gender, and theories of science intersect to formulate ideas about humanity and animality? What theoretical and practical possibilities arise from exploring these overlapping taxonomies of power?
This course explores these questions, engaging in an ongoing conversation about how theories of science and law shape ideas about race, gender, and species. We will consider human and animal bodies in science and medicine. We interrogate how the human is a site of political contestation, articulated through colonial and racialized processes that render some lives human / subhuman / nonhuman within hierarchies of power and exclusion. Central to this uneven rendering of what it means to be human is the way law and legal processes criminalize and racialize human beings, and sustain anthropocentrism. Informed by these literatures, we move into exploring the possibilities and limits of posthumanism, with a particular emphasis on work that aims to decolonize posthumanist theory.
Within these theoretical frameworks, we move into thinking about the boundaries of the human/animal body; the politics of being and becoming in multispecies worlds; how fraught cultural and political cases where race and species intersect are negotiated; what the “feral” can add to these entanglements of race, species, and gender; the intertwining logics of species, colonialism, and empire; and how different ways of being embodied can inform a politics of multispecies care. We will conclude our work together for the semester with a collectively curated selection of readings, to be determined by our seminar.
FGSS 235/SISP 235: Economies of Death, Geographies of Care
Fall 2016, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University; Format: 25-person seminar
Living, dying, and care work are processes often governed by economic logics that render some lives killable and others grievable in global regimes of power. This course explores how theoretical frameworks of “economies of death” and “geographies of care” can help to illuminate how human and nonhuman lives, deaths, and systems of care are intertwined with economic logics. Whose lives are privileged over others and with what consequences? How are certain bodies made killable and others grievable? How do we understand and face care processes of death and dying, and how are these processes often geographically determined? How do we live and die well, give and receive care, and who has this privilege? This class interrogates these and other questions related to how we live and die with others in a multispecies world. With attention to race, gender, species, and other sites of perceived difference, students will gain a nuanced understanding of core themes related to fundamental processes of living, dying, and caring labor. This course asks students to theorize economies of death and geographies of care to understand the deeply political nature of life and death as differential moments on a continuum of being. We focus on key questions related to an affirmative politics of life–in other words, how we should live, how we care and for whom, and how we might foster nonviolent interpersonal life-affirming encounters. Students can expect to explore pressing contemporary issues such as mass incarceration and “social death;” climate change; valuing and commodifying life; breeding and raising nonhuman animals for food; plant consciousness; end-of-life care and euthanasia; and the role of marginalized bodies in biomedical research. The course will be primarily discussion-based.
HONORS 231A: The Politics of Living and Dying
Winter 2016, Honors Program, University of Washington; Format: 25-person seminar
How are living and dying understood in contemporary critical theory? In what ways are the lives and deaths of humans and nonhumans governed by economic logics? Whose lives are privileged over others and with what consequences? How are conflicts rooted in racism, land dispossession, and settler-colonial histories implicated in making certain bodies killable? How do we understand and face the process of death and dying? How do we live and die well, and who has this privilege? This seminar interrogates these and other questions related to how we live and die with others in a multispecies world. With attention to race, gender, species, ability, and other sites of perceived difference, students will gain a nuanced understanding of core themes related to fundamental processes of living and dying. This course asks students to theorize real-world moments of living and dying – of ‘making live’ and ‘letting die’ – to understand the deeply political nature of life and death as differential moments on a continuum of being. We focus on key questions related to an affirmative politics of life – in other words, how we should live, how we care and for whom, and how we might foster nonviolent interpersonal life-affirming encounters. Students can expect to explore pressing contemporary issues such as mass incarceration and ‘social death;’ biotechnologies and ethics of patenting life; stem cell research; the intensive breeding, confinement and slaughter of nonhuman animals for food; ecological damage and Indigenous struggles over territory in extractive industry; end-of-life care and euthanasia; and the role of marginalized bodies in biomedical research.
GEOG 271: Geographies of Food and Eating
Winter 2016, Geography, University of Washington; Format: 150-person lecture (3 TAs); Based on course design by Lucy Jarosz; Service learning
This course examines the development of the world food economy, current responses to its instabilities and crises, and issues relating to obesity, hunger, and inequality in relation to food systems. We will explore the political, social, and economic dimensions of food and eating in particular spaces, places, environments, contexts, and regions and with attention to themes of food sovereignty, food security and food policy. The course uses the theme of food and eating to examine key concepts from human geography and thereby provides an introduction to the discipline through this thematic approach.
GEOG 205: Our Global Environment
Fall 2015, Geography, University of Washington; Format: 75-person lecture (1 TA); Based on course design by Christine Biermann
We live on an extraordinary planet, yet the activities and conveniences of modern civilization often dull our sensitivity to the natural environment. Accordingly, the objective of this course is to enhance our awareness of the earth’s environmental systems (e.g., climate, atmosphere, water, ecosystems, and soils) and the roles of humans within and upon these systems. We will examine environmental systems using a geographic perspective that emphasizes spatial patterns of phenomena, relationships between different places, and the interconnectedness of people and the environment. The issues we will explore vary in scale from global climate change to local forest dynamics. For all issues we will attend to the basic processes underlying environmental change, the social dynamics that also shape environments, and the interactions between physical and social processes. Ultimately, a geographic perspective on environmental systems will allow you to evaluate causes, consequences, and potential solutions to some of the most pressing environmental problems of our time.
CHID 250: Exploring Human and Animal Bodies in Film and Literature
Fall 2015, Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), University of Washington; Format: 50-person lecture; co-taught with Nancy White
The interests of human and nonhuman animals are sometimes at odds with one another and with the planet. Some animals are viewed (by humans) as sympathetic, others as valuable, and still others are viewed as pests. From resource allocation to food production to public policy, decisions are made based on human preferences and carried out by those with power. While the sovereignty of humans is often exerted over nonhuman animals, this course will also question the boundaries of the human body and its place “at the top of the food chain.” The course will interrogate the role of bodies (human and nonhuman) in society by examining literary and filmic works in which they feature prominently. Some questions we will investigate are: Whose bodies are subjugated and whose are elevated? Why do we prefer certain bodies to others and what kinds of choices do we make based on those preferences? Where do our bodies end and where do others begin? Who exerts power over human and nonhuman bodies and to what end?
CHID 250/GEOG 295: Animals, Place and Politics: Doing Multispecies Ethnography
Summer 2015, CHID / Geography, University of Washington; Course format: 12-person seminar, experiential learning at Pigs Peace Sanctuary
Peer Facilitator: Sarah Olson
Students enrolled in this experiential learning seminar will gain a better understanding of the place of animals in society and the experience of animals within systems of commodity production and use. We will explore pets/companion animals, animals in entertainment, animals in the food system, and animals in medical research as case studies in order to theorize notions of power and difference, ethics and responsibility, and creativity in reimagining the status quo. This course will push the boundaries of how we think about different ways of being in the world.
In particular, students will have the opportunity to explore the place of animals in society through time spent in the classroom and at Pigs Peace Sanctuary. As a lens through which to understand the lives of other-than-human animals, we will focus our work together on the ‘multispecies ethnography’, a methodological trend in anthropology dedicated to understanding the inner lives of animals and the impacts on their lives and bodies of their encounters with humans.
Time spent in the classroom will be dedicated to engaging with readings, film and presentations related to the subject of animals in society and understanding the theory behind our ethnographic fieldwork. Our time at Pigs Peace Sanctuary will be dedicated to conducting an ethnography of a pig who lives there and a geography of the sanctuary itself. Each student will be paired with a pig and will work with that singular animal throughout the term. Through our work together, we will explore creative possibilities for pushing new boundaries in how we think about politics, power, place, ethics and interspecies relationships in our private and public lives.
GEOG 497: Geography Honors Thesis Tutorial
Fall, Winter, Spring 2014-2015, Geography, University of Washington; Course format: 4-person seminar/workshop
Over the course of the school year, senior honors students in Geography will design, research, and write their Senior Honors Theses. In the fall term, students will learn to choose a topic, craft their research design, and write a proposal. In the winter term, they will conduct original research using qualitative and/or quantitative social science research methods. During spring, they will write their theses, completing several sets of revision through a peer review process. The year culminates in the presentation of student thesis projects at the Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Geography Department’s Undergraduate Research Symposium.
HONORS 231: Animals, Environment, Food and Justice
Winter 2015, Honors Program, University of Washington; Course format: 25-person seminar; service learning component
How do we understand the ethical and political dimensions of the food system for animals, humans and the environment? How does animal agriculture operate as a dominant institution fraught with complex interspecies social relations? What are the impacts of animal agriculture on humans, animals, and the environment and what movements for justice are working to mitigate these impacts? This course explores issues of justice for humans, animals and the environment in animal agriculture primarily in the United States. Framed at the outset by George Orwell’s 1984, the course asks students to explore how discourse operates powerfully across space and time to shape processes of production and consumption and policies related to the meat, dairy and egg industries. The second part of the course contextualizes how agricultural and food policies are shaped. Next, we consider literature on climate change and the environmental impacts of industrial ‘livestock’ production. This provides context for Part 4, which aims to understand the way these production practices affect human laborers and surrounding communities. The fifth part of the course is dedicated to taking seriously the lives and deaths of animals at the center of the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Finally, the course concludes with a class on how we might envision futures of multispecies justice. In this class, we will spend time synthesizing all we have learned to envision practical alternative pathways forward (for food production, consumption and policy) that take seriously the plights of humans, animals and the environment.
CHID 250: Animals, Ethics and Food: Doing Multispecies Ethnography
Summer 2014, CHID, University of Washington; Course format: 10-person seminar, experiential learning at Pigs Peace Sanctuary
Students enrolled in this course should gain a better understanding of the workings of the U.S. food system and the experience of animals within this system. Using animals in the food system as a case study, this course will explore notions of power and difference, ethics and responsibility, and creativity in reimagining the status quo. This course will push the boundaries of how we think about different ways of being in the world.
In this experiential learning seminar, students will have the opportunity to explore the place of animals in the United States food system through experiential learning in the classroom and at Pigs Peace Sanctuary. As a lens through which to understand the lives of animals in the food system, we will focus our work together on the ‘multispecies ethnography’, a methodological trend in anthropology dedicated to understanding the inner lives of animals and the impacts on their lives and bodies of their encounters with humans.
Time spent in the classroom will be dedicated to engaging with readings, film and presentations related to the subject of animals in the food system and understanding the theory behind our ethnographic fieldwork. Our time at Pigs Peace sanctuary will be dedicated to conducting an ethnography of a pig who lives there and a geography of the sanctuary itself. Through our work together, we will explore creative possibilities for pushing new boundaries in how we think about ethics and farmed animals in our private and public lives.
GEOG 102: The Making of World Regions (ONLINE)
Spring 2014; Fall 2015, Geography, University of Washington; Course format: 55-person online course; course design by Kacy McKinney
This course has two main components. First, it uses readings from the course textbook in order to study several areas of the world through a set of recurring themes. Second, it offers online lessons on the critical study of the process of dividing the world up into regions, or regional geography. In each lesson we will build on and go beyond the material in the textbook, and you will be asked to think critically about the division of the world into regions.
Why do we divide the world up as we do? How have these divisions changed over time? Who controls and defines these divisions and to what end (for whose benefit)? This course will both familiarize you with different regions of the world, and help to expand your understanding of the socially constructed nature of these divisions. We often take these divisions for granted as natural or pre-‐given. (e.g., we all know where “Latin America” is, right?) But we often overlook the fact that these have changed dramatically over time, due to social and political circumstances.
In this course we will critically examine the formation, adaptation, and conflict over the division of the world into distinctive regions as we know them today. In effect, we will be engaging in a critical geography of the world. In addition to the course textbook, which takes a relatively traditional approach to studying the regions of the world, you will watch films, listen to speeches, and analyze art and maps, all of which encourage you to question these divisions.
CHID 480: Animals, Ethics and Food: Deconstructing Dominant Discourse
Winter 2012; Fall 2012, Comparative History of Ideas Program, University of Washington; Course format: 25-person seminar
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them […] the process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt.” (Orwell 1963)
In this advanced seminar, students will have the opportunity to explore the place of animals in the United States food system through various lenses. An interdisciplinary exploration of animals in the food system pushes us to encounter in the course issues of emotion and intellect, living and dying, discrimination and oppression, and the discourses that run as undercurrents throughout these issues. Most of all, drawing on an interdisciplinary body of work from both scholars and activists, we will introduce creative possibilities for pushing new boundaries in how we think about ethics and farmed animals in our private and public lives.
Student should come to the first day of class having recently read George Orwell’s 1984. Week one of the course introduces students to thinking about how discourses are constructed about animals as food in the United States. This is a major theme throughout the course, and we will utilize Cathy B. Glenn’s ‘doublespeak’ and Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ to provide a frame for thinking through what work discourse does to obscure the current relationship between humans and animals in the food system.
The first part of the course is dedicated to understanding the way animals live and die. Beginning with the industrialization of the food system is integral to understanding the experience of farmed animals. As a response to the industrialization of animal agriculture, alternative producers have gained more popularity in recent food localization and organics movements. Contemporary ethologists and animal behaviorists are contributing to a growing body of work on animal emotion and intellect that helps us to understand their lives more fully. Students will be encouraged to engage in conversations that explore questions such as: What do we gain from trying to understand and respect animals’ intellectual and emotional lives? How have notions of place and space in the industrialization of agriculture affected consumers’ understanding of the implications for animals of this kind of system? In alternative animal agriculture, how alternative is alternative?
This course focuses on animals’ experience, but it also engages with important academic debates about the relationship between animal oppression in the food system and human experiences. Geographer Joni Seager (2003) asks us to consider ‘species’ alongside ‘race,’ ‘class,’ ‘gender,’ and ‘sexuality,’ as significant sites of oppression. How can studying familiar (or not-so-familiar) histories of discrimination and oppression help to inform an understanding of animals? How can dialogues about animals interrogate intersections among various sites of oppression?
Finally, this course synthesizes what we learn throughout the quarter about animal lives and deaths, emotion and intellect, and discrimination and oppression in order to push the conversation further and in order to rethink discourse. We will take a field trip to a local animal sanctuary where students will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the animals we have learned about throughout the course. This final portion investigates ways to re-imagine our relationship to the animals we eat. What can we do with this information, and how can we grow as scholars and global citizens by taking seriously the plight of animals in the food system? What new possibilities emerge for animals and for humans?
CHID 480: En Vogue: From Feathers to Leather: A Contemporary and Historical Exploration of Animals in Fashion
Winter 2014; Spring 2015, Comparative History of Ideas Program, University of Washington; Course format: 25-person seminar
Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle. Gucci, Armani, Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum. Paris, New York, Milan. The modern fashion industry is an amalgamation of corporate media giants, designer brands, individual icons, and select urban centers. Fashion is also embodied in the functional, everyday choices we make about what to wear, how these articles of clothing contribute to the construction of our identities, and why we make the choices we do.
Thus, fashion is at once a celebration of the extraordinary, the astonishing, the unexpected and the ordinary, the mundane, the everyday. From the catwalks of Paris and Milan to the streets of Lynnwood and Tacoma, fashion—the clothing we wear—is connected to complex cultural, economic, political and ethical networks. And throughout time, animals have been deeply embedded at the heart of these networks through the use of their skin, their bones, their teeth, their hair, their feathers, their tails and other body parts in human fashion. These industries use various bodies and labor—human and animal—in commodity production.
Animal use is ubiquitous in fashion and this course uses animals and fashion as a lens to get at two important intellectual sites of inquiry: 1) It will offer students the chance to explore the complex political, economic, and cultural dimensions of a multi-billion dollar industry with relevance for their everyday experience, and 2) it will encourage students to reflect on the personal, ethical, and intellectual dimensions of human/animal relations in specific empirical and more theoretically abstract ways.
In addition to the more overt explorations of animal justice in the fur, leather, feather, wool, silk, and bone industries, the course material also addresses issues of human and environmental justice. Humans and the environment, like animals, are made vulnerable by the production and reproduction of fashion trends and the networks that promote these trends. Thus, students will begin by engaging with questions of vulnerable economies of export around the globe, sweatshop and child labor, environmental destruction and toxic effects of the fashion industry. An intersectional approach not only connects social justice issues of animals, humans and the environment to each other, but it also acts as a location for students to personally engage with these issues on their own terms.
Using animals in fashion as a case study, this course explores the ways in which aesthetics are deployed to obscure certain realities about the production and consumption of commodities goods like clothing. Building an empirical and theoretical base informed by a Marxist social anarchist critical theory in Part 1, students will explore in Part 2 four specific case studies of animal use in fashion—fur, feathers, wool and leather. Finally, Part 3 of the course is dedicated to students sharing what they’ve learned about their own chosen topics through in-depth final project presentations.
COURSES FOR WHICH I HAVE SERVED AS A TEACHING ASSISTANT
GEOG 123: Introduction to Globalization, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Fall 2008, 2009, 2010 (Lead faculty: Matthew Sparke; Joseph Hannah)
CHID 250: Indigenous Encounters: Culture & Politics in Latin America, Comparative History of Ideas Program, University of Washington, Spring 2010 (Lead faculty: Maria Elena Garcia)
GEOG 276: Introduction to Political Geography, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Winter 2010 & 2011 (Lead faculty: Michael Brown)
GEOG 271: Geography of Food and Eating, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Spring 2009 (Lead faculty: Lucy Jarosz)
GEOG 280: Geography of Health & Healthcare, Department of Geography, University of Washington, Winter 2009 (Lead faculty: Jonathan Mayer)