HC101H - Dogs, Past and Present

Professor: Lisa Wolverton

4.00 credits

CRN 12213: Monday & Wednesday, 8:30-9:50am @ CHA 201

CRN 12214: Tuesday & Thursday, 8:30-9:50am @ CHA 201

As workers and companions, dogs have shared human history virtually from its origins. For dogs, the first domesticated animals, human society has always been their natural habitat. Understanding dogs therefore requires analyzing their relationships to and meaning for people. For what reasons, practical and emotional, have humans kept dogs? What roles have dogs played in their community life and culture? How have humans understood the nature of dogs as a species and the differences between animals and themselves? How have humans projected onto dogs their assumptions about humanity? What ethical obligations do they recognize toward their dogs? What problems result from the close proximity of people and dogs in daily life—and how have societies coped with them? How have the answers to these questions changed as human societies have changed? This course considers the history of dogs in human society to the present day employing a range of disciplinary perspectives. Philosophy and ethics, biology and psychology, literature and law, popular culture and history, all offer distinct perspectives on the dogs that live among us. The study of dogs thus allows us to sample their contributions, to practice analytical reading and writing, to exchange ideas and debate sometimes controversial issues on the basis of sound evidence, and to explore one aspect of our humanity and our world.