JL Schatz

Teaching Critical Animal Studies: Beyond The Bounds of Gradeability

By, JL Schatz, Lecturer of English at Binghamton University


In my presentation I argue that teaching Critical Animal Studies requires more than teaching textbooks on social justice, liberation theory, and intersectionality. Instead it requires developing new methods for grading that extend beyond what’s counted as work within the class itself. In short, it requires students to internalize the course material outside of what can be demonstrated through a final paper or class project.

I will first highlight the problems of liberal educational models that accepts the value-neutrality of all viewpoints and a detached grader. Then I will explore different tools that have been used to alter the way grading and teaching take place. In doing so, I will evaluate extra-credit models, reflection journals, and class required internalization. Lastly, my presentation will problematize these solutions to show the need for ongoing work in theorizing how to teach critical animal studies.
In the end, I demonstrate that, despite pedagogy always being a work in progress, by teaching against the grain we can forge a path for truly transformative education models. This requires us to not only grade what exists outside the classroom but also constantly be developing new methods of evaluation to reflect student’s comprehension of course material.


JL Schatz is a Lecturer in English & Feminist Evolutionary Theory at Binghamton University where he also serves as the Director of Speech & Debate. He has published essays on environmentalism and apocalypse, critical pedagogy, technology and transhumanism, disability studies, and cultural theory. His debate program has been consistently ranked in the top ten of the nation and was ranked 1st in