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New Undergraduate Course Supplement 2022

GERM 16 Curious George: A Secret History

Where do children’s book characters come from? The answer seems obvious: from their creators’ imaginations! This was certainly how the German-Brazilian-American-Jewish serial migrants Margret and H. A. Rey liked to describe their creation, the “monkey” (rather, a correctly drawn young chimpanzee) Curious George. However, Curious George’s origin is anything but clear. In this course, we will trace the figure’s history, some of it completely unknown or misunderstood. In lectures, field trips, and lab-style archival forays, we will learn about the facts and fictions of colonial animal trade in Germany’s north, where the authors were born; about the upkeep of apes in public and private zoos on three continents; about ape taming and circus spectacles; about press coverage of ape escapes; about the reception of Darwinism in Germany and about the Reys’ interest in primatology; about the authors’ own flight from Nazi-occupied Europe and their attention to war-displaced animals; and about simians as metaphors for human otherness and marginality.

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:LIT; WCult:W

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