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Wild Things: A Cultural History of Animals, 1700-1900 - HIS00085I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Stephanie Howard-Smith
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

Animals have played a crucial role in human history. Valued as beasts of burden, consumed as food, hunted for sport, exhibited for pleasure and studied by scientists, animals have shaped the development of European society. At the same time, they have themselves elicited contradictory human emotions, from curiosity and pity to affection and fear. This module explores the evolution of human-animal relations in the years 1700-1900 and uses the history of animals to explore wider cultural and social developments during this period. We look at animals in a variety of settings, from the circus ring to the laboratory, the savannah to the dinner table, considering their contrasting roles as commodities, specimens, companions and victims of abuse. Students will get the chance to study the history of animals through a range of primary sources, including novels, art, zoo guides and RSPCA reports.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to study particular historical topics in depth;
  • To develop students' ability to examine a topic from a range of perspectives and to strengthen their ability to work critically and reflectively with secondary and primary material; and
  • To combine seminar preparation and discussion of the topic being studied with extended independent work on a project devised by the student.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have acquired a deep knowledge of the specific topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to use and synthesise a range of primary and secondary sources
  • Be able to evaluate the arguments that historians have made about the topic studied
  • Have developed their ability to study independently through seminar-based teaching
  • Gain experience of working collaboratively through an assessed group project

Module content

Teaching Programme:
This 30-credit module is taught through a weekly two-hour seminar run from weeks 2-10 in the spring term and a four week period of project work undertaken in weeks 1-4 of the summer term. Students will complete their group project work within that period and tutors should arrange to be available for consultation with students twice during that time. There will be no formal seminar teaching during this period.

Seminars will cover the following areas:

  1. From Horsemeat to Foie-gras: Animals as Food
  2. Pampered Pooches: The Rise of Pet-Keeping in Europe
  3. Cruelty and Compassion: Animal Welfare and Changing Social Attitudes
  4. Caged Wonders: Exhibiting Exotic Animals in the Zoo
  5. Menageries and the Circus: Animal Performance and Display
  6. From the Wunderkammer to the Natural History Museum: Collecting and Classifying the Natural World
  7. Tortured Dogs and Murderous Scientists: Animals in the Laboratory
  8. Representing the Animal: Animals in Art and Literature

Group project work will focus on the idea of animal biography. Students will complete a detailed study of a well-known individual animal to elucidate the wider themes and issues of animal history. Sources will be provided on a range of animals - from Jumbo the elephant to Greyfriars Bobby. Alternatively, students may choose their own subject in consultation with the module leader.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Groupwork
Project
N/A 33
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
24-Hour Open Exam
8 hours 67

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Formative assessment will be a group presentation between weeks 5 and 7 of the spring term.

For summative assessment students take a 24-hour open exam in the summer term assessment period, usually released at 11:00 on day 1 and submitted at 11:00 on day 2. For those taking two Explorations modules the 24-hour open exams are held on consecutive days, with both papers released at 11:00 on day 1 and both due for submission on 11:00 of day 3.

Students also submit a piece of written work for their group project of no more than 3,000 words in week 5 of the summer term.

The exam carries 67% of assessment and the project element 33% for this module.

Students who need to be reassessed in the project component of this module (for example due to Exceptional Circumstance) will be required to submit in the summer reassessment period a shorter individual project (2,000 words) which should include a short reflection (500 words max) on group work, considering how this project could be expanded if a team of three to four people were working on it. Students should consider how they would divide up the research tasks, and reflect briefly on problems which might arise and how they would manage them. Module tutors will advise on the content and design of this project. 

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Groupwork
Project
N/A 33
Not-online take-home exam (1 day)
24-Hour Open Exam
8 hours 67

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline unless submitted in week 5 of the summer term, in which case these are available within 25 working days. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Philip Howell and Hilda Kean, Handbook for Animal-Human History (London: Routledge, 2019)

Kean, Hilda. Animal Rights: Political and Social Change in Britain since 1800. London: Reaktion Books, 1998.

Ritvo, Harriet. The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.