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The University of Southampton

ENGL3097 Animal Forms: poetry and the non-human

Module Overview

What can animals teach us about the human and non-human? What do the creative forms we use to describe them show us about human form and the other? In this module, you will read a range of poetic and critical material which explores the porous boundaries between person, pet, and predator, and consider animals from the domestic cat to charismatic megafauna. Your journey will take you from ecocriticism and bioethics to circuses, zoos, and the wilderness. The module will include a range of poetry, from Anglo-Saxon riddles to nonsense poetry, and also give you the opportunity to write your own. Over the course of the module, the range of critical, human, and animal encounters aims to reshape the way we consider language, being, and our relationship with the world.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of poetic forms and techniques
  • the philosophical questions raised by studying human and non-human relations
  • the historical and ethical contexts for our depiction of the non-human in literature
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • plan and develop a research essay on poetry
  • draw on philosophical and ethical arguments in literary analysis
  • use poetry analysis as a prompt for creative work
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • explore and identity patterns across a range of different textual material
  • develop creative confidence
  • design and implement your own intellectual and creative projects
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop intellectual and creative links between culture and ethics
  • debate philosophical questions drawing upon cultural knowledge
  • respond creatively to questions of historical and current importance


This module will explore a range of formal, technical and philosophical questions raised by the depiction of animals in poetry. Weekly readings will allow you to make connections across poetry collections, within specific poetic movements, and between poems, theoretical texts, and wider ethical questions. While the focus will be predominantly be on modern and contemporary writing, we will also explore the role of animals in medieval bestiaries and Renaissance allegory. Throughout the module, we will encourage you to develop creative, critical, and philosophical responses to the texts. Indicative poets you will encounter on this module include William Cowper, Elizabeth Bishop, Edward Lear, Marianne Moore, and Danez Smith.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Seminars • Learning support hours • Individual consultations Learning activities include • Independent study, including reading and writing • Group discussion • Peer appraisal of writing This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour may include (but need not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions. In this module, these hours will be particularly focused on supporting and workshopping your creative responses.

Follow-up work10
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Wider reading or practice50
Completion of assessment task30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Tom L. Beauchamp and R.G. Frey, (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. 

Onno Oerlemans (2018). Poetry and Animals: Blurring and Boundaries with the Human. 

Laurence Buell (1995). The Environmental Imagination. 

Alisdair Cochrane (2010). An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory. 

Mike Malay (2018). The Figure of the Animal in Modern and Contemporary Poetry. 

Cheryll Glotflety and Harold Fromm (1996). The Ecocriticism Reader. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio  (3000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio  ( words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Costs for this module will typically not exceed £30.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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