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CHID 480 G: Special Topics: Advanced Study Of The History Of Ideas

Exploring Interlocking Oppressions: Animals, Gender and Difference

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
FSH 108
Karen Emmerman

Syllabus Description:

Interlocking OppressionsSPR15.jpg


CHID 480G: Exploring Inter-Locking Oppressions: Animals, Gender, and Difference


Spring 2015


Tuesday/Thursday 10:30 – 12:20 Fisheries, room 108



Instructor:           Karen S. Emmerman, PhD


Office Hours:       Tuesdays & Thursdays 12:30 to 1:30 & by appointment

                             Vista Café in the William H. Foege building



Embarrassingly, history has shown time and time again how humans complain about the pinch in their own shoes, while failing to see that their tight-fitting shoes are trampling on someone else.” – Lisa Kemmerer


Course Description                                                                                            

Among theorists and activists it is commonplace to focus on one, very particular kind of injustice.  Thus, it is not at all unusual to encounter feminist activists who eat and wear animal flesh as well as animal activists who are not particularly concerned with the plight of women.  Yet, the marginalization and oppression of animals has been linked (through what Karen Warren calls “the logic of domination”) to the marginalization and oppression of women.  It is also often thought that the same forces that relegate women and animals to the realm of the “other” operate on other marginalized groups.  In this course we will explore the nature of inter-locking oppressions by examining the connections between the domination of animals and the domination of women as well as other marginalized groups.


By the end of the course students will have a thorough grasp of the key features of animal ethics including both traditional and feminist approaches.  They will also have an in-depth understanding of the form and nature of inter-locking oppressions.  As the course will involve careful consideration of text and argumentation, students will have the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills.



Course Texts (required)                                                                                      

These texts are available for purchase at the UW Bookstore.


Lisa Kemmerer, ed. Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice (SS)

Carol J. Adams and Lori Gruen, eds., Ecofeminism (Ecofem)

Other readings will be posted under the weekly Modules section of the course Canvas site:


Course Texts (required & available through UW Libraries)                                

These texts are on reserve at Odegaard library.  You can also find them through other sources if you wish.  They are both required reading.  If you opt to read them on reserve at the library, be sure to leave yourself enough time as you will be sharing the book with others.


Marjorie Spiegel, The Dreaded Comparison

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle


Assignments and Grading                                                                                  


Participation 15% (includes weekly discussion questions below)

You are expected to attend all class sessions and participate actively in discussions.  As this is a small seminar, the success of the class depends on all participants completing the readings prior to class and arriving having already thought about the issues they raise. 


Weekly Discussion Questions

Your participation grade includes the requirement of posting one weekly discussion question on the Canvas site discussion board.  Discussion questions must be posted by 11:59pm the night before we will be discussing the reading.  I will not accept late discussion questions or questions posted about readings we have already discussed in class. These are meant to be brief postings to help us all think together about the issues raised in the readings.  You can ask questions of clarification as well as questions that engage more critically with the author’s work.  You might also find news stories related to the particular reading that you wish to post about.


You should feel free to respond to others’ questions and engage in discussion on the discussion board.  While not required, responding to others’ questions is another great way to participate in the class.


Questions will be graded pass/fail with passing questions receiving one (1) point and failing questions receiving zero (0) points.


Questions should be posted on the discussion board here:


Weekly Reading Response Papers 35%

Starting in week two (week of April 6th), students will write a weekly one-page critical response paper addressing the major points raised in the readings for the week.  The point of these papers is for you to think critically about the topics for discussion before our class meetings, so responses must address readings we have not yet discussed in class.  Responses should be submitted via Canvas as a Microsoft Word document by 6am on the morning of the day the readings will be discussed.  I will not accept or read late papers.  This means I will not accept a paper emailed to me at 7:00am, for example.  Each student must turn in eight reading responses over the course of the quarter.  If you turn in nine, I will drop the lowest grade.


Sexual Politics of Meat Short Essay 20%

Inspired by Carol J. Adams’ work linking the exploitation of women and non-human animals, you will find an image that depicts women and animals in a derogatory or exploitative way.  You will then write a 2-3 page paper analyzing the image using the ecofeminist theories we have discussed in class.  This assignment is due via Canvas as a Microsoft Word document on Tuesday, May 5th by 11:59pm.  More details about this assignment will be given during class.


Final Long Essay 30%

Students will write one long essay (10-15 pages double spaced) on a topic related to animals and inter-locking oppressions.  I am happy to work with graduate students on writing a longer paper if they wish.  More details on this assignment will be provided in class.  For now, please note that ten weeks is a very short time in which to pick a topic, mull it over, read all the associated readings, think through your argument, and so forth.  Look through the syllabus early in the quarter.  See if there’s a topic that particularly grabs you.  If so, get started thinking about how you would write a paper ahead of time.  If the topic you are most interested in isn’t scheduled until the last weeks of the quarter, be prepared to do those readings well ahead of time in order to formulate your topic.  Here are some important due dates to keep in mind.


  • You must meet with me in person to discuss your paper topic by Friday, May 15th.  That is the absolute latest you can meet with me.  I suggest we meet before that date.


  • You must turn in a bibliography of references you are using for your paper by 10:00am on Friday, May 22ndYou will turn this in via our Canvas site as a Microsoft Word document.  Note:  Though this assignment is not graded, failure to turn in a bibliography on time will result in a loss of 10 points from the essay (which is 10% of the grade).


  • Final papers are due via Canvas as Microsoft Word documents by 11:59pm on Tuesday, June 9thI will not accept late papers.


Course Grading Scale

≥ 95% = 4.0          75% = 2.0  

90% = 3.5             70% = 1.5

85% = 3.0             65% = 1.0

80% = 2.5             60% = 0.7

< 60% = 0.0



Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else’s ideas or writing as your own.  In this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people’s thinking and writing – as long as you cite them.  Plagiarism of any sort will not be tolerated. You are responsible for knowing what constitutes a violation of the University of Washington Conduct Code, and you will be held responsible for such violations whether they were intentional or not.  I pursue penalties for plagiarism to the fullest possible extent, including reporting any student found to have plagiarized to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.  Plagiarism will result in loss of credit (at best) or expulsion from the class (at worst). Students are encouraged to read the section on plagiarism in your student handbook.  More information on how to avoid plagiarism is available at the end of the syllabus.


Classroom Respect                                                                                             

The nature of this class means that students will have different views, sometimes quite passionate, about the subject matter.  Lively discussion is a vital part of the work we are doing together.  While you are encouraged to speak your mind freely in class discussions, you are expected to express yourself courteously, showing respect for the opinions and sensibilities of others.  Remember that we will be unpacking and pushing against ideas this quarter, not persons.  You are expected to respect differences that may include but are not limited to the following: race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, religion, national origin, family status, immigration status, socioeconomic status, and veteran status.  Derogatory remarks and discourteous behavior of any kind will not be tolerated.  Engage respectfully with course materials, as well, even those at adds with your personal beliefs and values.  In general, it is optimal to approach the course in the spirit of charitability; granting both persons and ideas the best possible interpretation before forming beliefs about their veracity.


Additional Expectations & Policies                                                         

  • Be polite:  This means not just listening quietly while others are speaking and responding politely, but also actively working to engage with their comments, along with the material we study in the class. Don’t text during class, peruse unrelated content on the Internet during class, fall asleep during class, arrive late or pack up early, etc. If you cannot avoid these things, you should leave class so as to not distract others.
  • Be prepared: This means reading and re-reading carefully all assigned readings prior to class as well as preparing discussion points and questions ahead of time.  Questions of clarification about the readings are always welcome as are questions of critical engagement.  For every class, you should bring the day’s designated reading with you along with note-taking equipment.
  • Be there: Attend class both in body and in spirit.  Make sure you are well-rested, have sufficient nutrition and hydration, and are equipped with what you need to be a full participant in the classroom.  If you do have to miss class for a legitimate reason, you should contact me before class to inform me of the absence and learn what you will miss.  You should then take responsibility to gather notes from someone who did attend and perhaps come to office hours to discuss the missed material.
  • Missed work:  Any in-class work that contributes to your participation grade cannot be made up if you are absent from class unless you have contacted me before class with a legitimate reason for your absence.
  • Late assignments:  I will not accept late assignments without prior arrangement.  Preferably, students will contact me a week before the due date to discuss your situation and determine whether I will grant an extension.
  • Emergencies:  I understand that things come up in a human life.  Emergencies happen as do caregiving responsibilities, etc.  I am happy to work with students to accommodate their particular situations but can only do so if students communicate with me in advance of assignment due dates.
  • Check your email daily: You must check your UW email account daily as I will email regarding any changes to the reading schedule or the assignment structure.
  • Check the Canvas site daily: You must check the class’s UW Canvas site daily as I will post announcements and changes as well as any new readings to the site.
  • Emailing me: On weekdays, I will check email daily and respond to emails within 24 hours.  I cannot guarantee a response on the weekends.
  • Take pride in your writing: Writing is a skill that you will continue to develop throughout your time at the UW and beyond. One, critical, aspect of writing we will emphasize in this course is the importance of giving yourself the time to edit assignments before you turn them in. Assignments that are sloppy (e.g. numerous spelling errors) or that are lacking page numbers or a bibliography will lose points. You are encouraged to edit your work carefully (this is more than running the Word spell-checker), ask someone else to proof your work, and take advantage of the writing centers available on campus.
  • Reserve readings:  I have placed a copy of The Dreaded Comparison  and The Jungle on reserve at Odegaard Library.  If you opt to use the reserved copy instead of purchasing the book, you are responsible for leaving sufficient time to access the reading understanding that others will also need to check out the book.




Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.


If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. 






Reading Schedule


Note that this schedule is subject to change.  I will announce changes in email and on the Canvas page as well as in class whenever possible.



A note about reading                                                                                         

Many of the readings assigned for this class are philosophical texts.  When reading complex, theoretical, material it is crucial that you plan enough time to read and re-read the text.  Often times it is necessary to read a given text three or more times.  Further tips for reading are available at the end of this syllabus.


Part I.  Why do Animals Matter?


Week 1:  Introduction to the course, course goals, traditional theories in animal ethics


          March 31

  • Introductions
  • Students write their goals for the course
  • Introduction to animal ethics
  • Lori Gruen, “Why Animals Matter” (PDF on Canvas)


Recommended background reading on animal ethics: 

Gruen, Lori, "The Moral Status of Animals", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),


April 2

  • Peter Singer, ”All Animals are Equal” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Tom Regan, “The Case for Animal Rights” (PDF on Canvas)


Recommended film:

“Earthlings,” available for free at



Week 2:  Introducing Feminist Moral Theory and Feminist Animal Ethics


          April 7

  • Virginia Held, “Feminist Moral Inquiry and The Feminist Future” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Carol Gilligan, selection from In a Different Voice (PDF on Canvas)
  • Calhoun, Cheshire, “Justice, Care, and Gender Bias” (PDF on Canvas)


Recommended background reading on feminist ethics: 

Tong, Rosemarie and Williams, Nancy, "Feminist Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),


April 9

  • Brian Luke, “Justice, Caring, and Animal Liberation” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Donovan, “Animal Rights and Feminist Theory” (PDF on Canvas)



Part II: Ecofeminism – Exploring the inter-locking nature of the oppression of women and animals


Week 3: Ecofeminist Theory – Theorizing Inter-Locking Oppressions


          April 14

  • Karen Warren, “The Power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Carol J. Adams and Lori Gruen, “Groundwork” (in EcoFem)


Recommended background reading on ecofeminism:

Greta Gaard, “Vegetarian Ecofeminism” (PDF on Canvas)


April 16

  • Marti Kheel, “Vegetarianism and Ecofeminism: Toppling Patriarchy with a Fork,” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Gary Francione, “Ecofeminism and Animal Rights” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Emmerman, “Inter-Animal Conflicts” (Ecofem)


In Class: Watch Greta Gaard’s “Ecofeminism Now” documentary




Week 4:  Ecofeminism Continued – Women & Animals: Inter-locking Oppressions


          April 21

  • Carol Adams, “The Rape of Animals, the Butchering of Women” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Lisa Kemmerer, “Appendix: Factory Farming and Females,” (SS)
  • pattrice Jones, “Fighting Cocks: Ecofeminism versus Sexualized Violence,” (SS)


Optional Reading:

Elizabeth Jane Farians, “Theology and Animals,” in Sister Species

Note:  for the Farians piece, you can think about how age and gender factor into her analysis



April 23 – all readings posted on Canvas

  • Lori Gruen, “Dismantling Oppressions”  
  • Carol Glasser, "Tied Oppressions: An Analysis of how Sexist Imagery Reinforces Speciesist Sentiment"  
  • Maneesha Deckha, "Disturbing Images: PETA and the Feminist Ethics of Animal Advocacy"




Part III: Inter-Locking Oppressions – Animals and Other Marginalized Groups


Week V: Disability and Animals


          April 28


Optional Reading:

Sunaura Taylor, “Humane Meat?  No Such Thing,” available at


Possible in-class film:  Documentary “The Kids are Alright


April 30

  • Peter Singer, “Speciesism and Moral Status” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Kittay, "The Personal is Philosophical is Political: A Philosopher and Mother of a Cognitively Disabled Person Sends Notes from the Battlefield" (PDF on Canvas)


In-Class:  watch videos from the SUNY Stony Brook conference on cognitive disability and animals


Week VI: Cross Cultural Issues – the Makah Whale Hunt


          May 5


Due: Sexual Politics of Meat short essay via Canvas by 11:59pm


May 7

  • Claire Kim, “Makah Whaling and the (Non)Ecological Indian” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Linda Fisher, “Freeing Feathered Spirits,” (SS)
  • Richard Twine, “Ecofeminism and Veganism: Revisiting the Question of Universalism” (Ecofem)




Week VII: Speciesism and Racism


          May 12

  • Marjorie Spiegel, “An Historical Understanding,” “Secrecy,” “Profits over All,” and “Power” (in The Dreaded Comparison on reserve at Odegaard)
  • Claire Kim, “The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Michael Vick” (Ecofem)


May 14

  • Miyun Park, “Fighting ‘Other’” (SS)
  • David Nibert, “Toward a Sociological Analysis of Animal Oppression” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Carol J. Adams, “Why a Pig?  A Reclining Nude Reveals the Intersections of Race, Sex, Slavery, and Species” (Ecofem)


Deadline: May 15th is the last day to meet with me about your long essay topic.


Week VIII: Animals and Labor


          May 19


Recommended Reading: 

Look at the website for Food Empowerment Project (, especially the section under “Know the Issues” on workers.




May 21


In-Class: watch interview with lauren Ornelas


Recommended Film:

“Food, Inc.”


Due: Bibliography for the long essay is due via Canvas by 10am on Friday, May 22nd


Week IX: Queer Ecologies


          May 26

  • Greta Gaard, “Toward a Queer Ecofeminism” (PDF on Canvas)
  • Greta Gaard, “Toward New EcoMasculinities, EcoGenders, and Ecosexualities” (Ecofem)


May 28

  • pattrice jones, “—”Race, Class, Sex… & Species? Linking Feminist, Queer, and Animal Liberation” lecture at Smith College watch the video here
  • Watch film “Blackfish” – you are welcome to borrow my DVD
  • Michael Loadenthal, “Operation Splash Back!: Queering Animal Liberation  Through the Contributions of Neo-Insurrectionist Queers” (PDF on Canvas)



Week X: Activism and Privilege and Concluding Thoughts


          June 2

  • Breeze Harper, “"Connections: Speciesism, Racism, and Whiteness as the Norm" (SS)
  • Angela Harris, “Should People of Color Support Animal Rights?” (PDF on Canvas)


June 4

  • Wrap up/Concluding Thoughts
  • Bring the goals you set on the first day of the quarter and be prepared to discuss where you are with respect to those goals, what you’ve learned, how your thoughts have evolved, and what questions seem worth pursuing further




NOTES ON READING PHILOSOPHY                                                                    


Reading philosophy is entirely about re-reading.  This is my suggestion for how to do your reading assignments:

  • Read through once, fairly quickly, to get a sense for the main argument and the places in the essay where the philosopher is making his/her argument, considering objections, and offering responses.
  • Read through a second time, more thoroughly, trying to grasp the specifics of the argument, the objections, and the responses.
  • Take notes
  • Use a highlighter and Write in your book or in a notebook
  • Remember:  you are not reading to gather facts for memorization.  You are reading to critically engage in the arguments presented by the author.


Four Questions to Keep in Mind While Reading:

  • What view or position is the philosopher advocating?
  • What reasons or arguments are being offered in support of the view being advocated?
  • How strong are the reasons offered?
  • Are there any objections to the reasons offered?


Things philosophers do in their writing that might be confusing to readers:

  • Discuss positions opposed to the one defended;
  • Discuss positions similar, but crucially different from the one defended
  • Discuss arguments in favor of positions opposed to the one defended which the author will criticize
  • Raise objections to their own view, which they will respond to
  • Discuss arguments for the very same view as the one defended but that the author disagrees with


You’ll need to distinguish what the author is doing during any given moment in the essays.  This is why re-reading is crucial.


Some Words of Encouragement:

Reading philosophy is often very challenging and frustrating.  The key is to not give up!  You are capable of reading and understanding the material if you stick with it and concentrate.  Try not to get so frustrated that you simply give up on reading.  If you find yourself feeling frustrated, take a short break and then come back to it.  Soon you will see that you really can understand what is going on in the reading!


Citations (and Help with Avoiding Plagiarism)                                                   


Citations. Please use parenthetical citations in the text. Then provide full publication information in the Bibliography. Example:


In text:

There is much evidence to suggest that llamas are smarter than some college professors (Healy 2001: 23-35).


In Bibliography:

Healy, Kevin. 2001. Llamas, Weaving, and Organic Chocolate. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.


Speaking of citations… Don’t Plagiarize.



“To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use:

       another person's idea, opinion, or theory;

       any facts, statistics that are not common knowledge

       quotations of another person's actual spoken or written words; or

       paraphrase of another person's spoken or written words.”


“Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism”

1. Put in quotations everything that comes directly from the text especially when taking notes.


2. Paraphrase, but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words. Instead, read over what you want to paraphrase carefully; cover up the text with your hand, or close the text so you can't see any of it (and so aren't tempted to use the text as a "guide"). Write out the idea in your own words without peeking.


3. Check your paraphrase against the original text to be sure you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words, and that the information is accurate.


When in doubt, it is always best to use a citation.

Additional Details:

Among theorists and activists it is commonplace to focus on one, very particular kind of injustice. Thus, it is not at all unusual to encounter feminist activists who eat and wear animal flesh as well as animal activists who are not particularly concerned with the plight of women.

Yet, the marginalization and oppression of animals has been linked (through what Karen Warren calls "the logic of domination") to the marginalization and oppression of women. It is also often thought that the same forces that relegate women and animals to the realm of the "other" operate on other marginalized groups. In this course we will explore the nature of inter-locking oppressions by examining the connections between the domination of animals and the domination of women as well as other marginalized groups.

Catalog Description: 
Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework with an interdisciplinary perspective. Satisfies the Gateways major/minor requirement. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:11am