CANINICITY:  THE CULTURE OF DOGS


SPRING QUARTER, 2002                                                                           W. J. SULLIVAN   


OFFICE:  Galvin 470A                                               OFFICE PHONE:      419-995-8229

E-MAIL:  sullivan.2@osu.edu                                     OFFICE HOURS:  MW 10-11 and by appointment

HOME:  1222 State Street, Lima                                HOME PHONE:        419-222‑7883




Schinto, Jeanne, ed.  The Literary Dog.  Great Contemporary Dog Stories.  New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990.

Duemer, Joseph, ed.  Dog Music : Poetry About Dogs.   St. Martin's Press, 1995.

Morris, My Dog Skip.  Vintage Books, 1996.

London, Call of the Wild, White Fang.  Penguin, 1903; 1906.

Woolf, Flush.  Harvest Books, 1933.

Grenier, The Difficulty of Being a Dog. University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.  Penguin, 1962.

Caroline Knapp Pack of Two. Delta, 1998.

Gurney, A. R., Sylvia.  Dramatist's Play Service, 1996. 

Mann, A Man and His Dog.  Dover, 1930.

Mayle.  A Dog's Life.  Vintage Books, 1996. 

Caninicity: The Culture of Dogs.  Selected Readings.



FILMS:   Some, but assuredly not all, of the following:

Gates of Heaven                                My Dog Skip

Babe                                                   The Incredible Journey

Best in Show                                      101 Dalmatians

The Call of the Wild                          Air Bud

Lassie, Come-Home                          The Adventures of Milo & Otis





1.  To read, analyze, inform one another about, and cultivate an enjoyment of a selection of works dealing with dogs in the major literary genres.


2.  To examine the ways in which, for at least the last 15,000 years, dogs have contributed their distinctive gifts to the human experience.


3.  To investigate the ways in which an understanding of the relationships between dogs and humans can contribute to a deeper and more enriched understanding of both of their experiences.




EXAMS:  TWO MIDTERMS, evenly spaced during the quarter and covering in detail only the material since the most recent exam.  See below for suggested dates.  And a FINAL EXAM during the scheduled exam week at the end of the quarter. 



Your Research Project for the quarter will be to make a chapter-length contribution to the anthology we will produce as a class, tentatively and rather pretentiously titled Great Dog Writers of the Western World.  Working in groups of various sizes (from 1 to 2-3), you will do cutting-edge research in order to write a combination biography/bibliography for one of the following writers:


Albert Payson Terhune                    James Serpell

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas              James Herriot

Vicki Hearne                                   James Thurber

Roger Caras                                    Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Susan Conant                                  John Muir

Donald McCaig                               Eric Knight (Lassie)


If you don't immediately recognize some of these names, that's very much a function of the invisibility of most dog writers to all but the cognoscenti, and it's one of the prime reasons for putting together Great Dog Writers of the Western World.  For too long, (some of) the great dog writers have languished in undeserved anonymity.  We will fix that, I hope, and along the way, get to use and develop the major research skills.


What you want to produce is (1.) a biographical sketch of reasonable length (4-5 pages?), and (2.) a bibliography of both works by the author in question and works about him, her or his/her important dog writing.





ATTENDANCE:   Required.  I have to hope that you will choose to/want to come to class on a regular basis, but I'm realistic enough to know that there will be days when you just cannot be here or just can't stand being here.  Since I'm anticipating a highly interactive classroom operation, the good of the class--and therefore, by definition, your own personal good--depends on regular attendance..  That's most of what I mean by "required."  In more concrete terms, though, I mean that I will allow THREE absences with no questions asked; thereafter, I will dock your final grade (i.e., your average) by a point for every hour missed without an awfully good and well-documented reason.  I hope it doesn't come to that.  One further note: Far be it from me to encourage tardiness, but since we have two-hour classes, better to come late, even by an hour, than not to come at all. 


MISSED DEADLINES AND MAKE-UP EXAMS: In general, I will take a hard line on both; even when fully justified, they are a nuisance and they seriously undermine valid pedagogical goals.  But, if you absolutely must do a make-up exam, I will administer it (grudgingly), but again, the reason must be legitimate and documented.  As for deadlines, I encourage you to consult with me if you're experiencing trouble with any a given deadline: a limited grace period can be arranged (limit: one time per quarter).


I reserve the right to refuse to accept, without giving a reason, any particular request for a changed deadline or a make-up exam.








1                      M 4/1              Course Introduction, Syllabus, etc.


W 4/3              THE DOG IN ANCIENT TIMES

Juliet Clutton-Brock.  "Dogs." from Domestic Animals from Early Times.  Selected Readings.

Maria Leach. "God Had a Dog."  Selected Readings.

Homer, "Odysseus Recognized by Argos," The Odyssey, Book XVII.  Selected Readings.

Aelian from On the Characteristics of AnimalsSelected  Readings.

A.A. Phillips & M.M. Willcock.  "Introduction."  Xenophon and  Arrian On Hunting.  Selected Readings.


Ibn al‑Marzuban.  from The Book of the Superiority of Dogs.  Selected Readings.

Peter Berresford Ellis.  "Bedd Gelert."  Selected Readings.

William Robert Spencer, "Beth-Gelert."  Selected Readings.



2                      M 4/8              THE RENAISSANCE DOG

Thomas Nash.  "Orion on Dogs' Qualities" from Summer's Last Will and Testament.  Selected Readings

William Shakespeare.   A Midsummer Night's Dream 4.1.103-137.

William Shakespeare.  Macbeth 3.1.74-113

Anon. from "Shakespeare's Knowledge of Field Sports"  Selected  Readings

Stephen Dickey.  from "Shakespeare's Mastiff Comedy."  Selected  Readings

Giles E. Dawson.  "London's Bull-Baiting and Bear-Baiting Arena in 1562."  Selected Readings


W 4/10            THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY DOG

John Muir.  Stickeen. 1909; Selected Readings

Stephen Crane, "A Dark-Brown Dog."  Handout

Stevenson, Robert Louis.  "The Character of Dogs." Selected Readings

Maeterlinck, Maurice.  "Our Friend, the Dog." Selected Readings

John Burroughs.  "The Literary Treatment of Nature." Selected  Readings



3                      M 4/15           Jack London.  The Call of the Wild.


W 4/17           Video:  The Call of the Wild.



4                      M 4/22            Virginia Woolf.  Flush.

                                                Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  "To My Dog Flush." Selected Readings

Harriet Ritvo.  "The Emergence of Modern Pet-Keeping."  Selected Readings

David R. Shumway.  "Nature in the Apartment: Humans, Pets, and the Value of Incommensurability."   Selected


W 4/24            Virginia Woolf.  Flush.

William Trevor.  "The Penthouse Apartment."  The Literary Dog, 295-321.




5                      M 4/29             THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY DOG

Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.

Caras.  "The Dogs in our Lives." Selected Readings

Michael Bishop, "Dogs' Lives."  The Literary Dog, 351-370.


W 5/1              Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.



6                      M 5/6              Morris, My Dog Skip.

T. Coraghessan Boyle. "Heart of a Champion."  The Literary Dog, 63-70.


W 5/8              Video:  My Dog Skip.

James William Jordan.  "An Ambivalent Relationship: Dog and Human in the Folk Culture of the Rural South." 
                                                    Selected Readings

Pinckney Benedict.  "Dog."  The Literary Dog, 85-102.



7                      M 5/13             Knapp Pack of Two.


W 5/15            Video:  Gates of Heaven

Elizabeth A. Lawrence.  "Death of a Faithful Dog: Impact and Meaning."  Selected Readings



8                      M 5/20            Mann.  A Man and His Dog.


W 5/22            Gurney.  Sylvia.




9                      M 5/27             Memorial Day: No Class


W 5/29             Video: The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show 2002:  one group and Best in Show.

Angela G. Ray.  "Calling the Dog: The Sources of AKC Breed Names."  Selected Readings

Derr, Mark.  "The Politics of Dogs."  Selected Readings



10                    M 6/3              Video: Christopher Guest.  Best in Show.

James Serpell.  "The Myth of Human Supremacy."  Selected Readings


W 6/5              Grenier.  The Difficulty of Being a Dog.

Mayle.  A Dog's Life.



FINALS WEEK:                    June 10-13