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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 21, 2005

UI Professor Wins Teaching Innovation Award From Humane Society

Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and in UI International Programs, has won an award from the Humane Society of the United States for her course, "Literature and Society: Capturing Animals." The Award for Innovation in the Study of Animals and Humans carries a $500 prize for the UI English Department.

Mangum developed the course after participating in the UI Center for Teaching's inaugural Service-Learning Institute in May. She taught it for the first time during the fall semester, which has just ended.

The goal is for students to "develop an understanding of what animals 'mean' in our culture and of the many ways we use animals -- as companions, as metaphors and images to represent fears, pleasures and assumptions, as food, as objects for pleasure and sadly for abuse, as commodities, as projections of qualities we wish to possess," Mangum said. In addition to classroom work and research, the students participated in service at the Iowa City/Coralville Animal Center, using those experiences and insights as an additional "text" for the course.

The Humane Society said Mangum's course "shows a sophisticated understanding of the emerging theory of animal criticism. The blending of examination of animals in literature and animals in real life (animal shelters) is an excellent vehicle to explore the theory, considering animal as object vs. subject; symbol vs. actor; and construct vs. autonomous character." In choosing the award winner, the group considered criteria such as topic coverage, impact on the study of animals and society, and originality of approach.

Mangum's students reflected on connections among film, literature and philosophy, and their own observations at the Animal Center in projects that included studies of the human impulse to describe animals in anthropomorphic terms, the meaning of "freedom" in the context of animal existence, connections between violence to animals and to humans, and strategies for motivating empathy and action on behalf of animals through storytelling techniques.

"In effect, we spent the semester 'capturing animals,'" Mangum said, "in fiction, in the Animal Center, in advertisements, in theoretical accounts of human-animal relations, in community policies governing animals, in university policies on animal research, in popular culture and in politics.

Mangum has received university recognition for outstanding teaching, including the prestigious President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004 and a Collegiate Teaching Award in 1994. She has taught in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 1990 and is currently a Fellow at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, where she co-directed a research semester, "Articulating the Animal," during Fall 2005 with Jane Desmond, associate professor of American Studies and associate dean of International Programs. The interdisciplinary project brought together scientists who study animals, artists who represent animals and humanities and social science scholars who examine representations of animals or analyze human and animal interaction.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization representing more than 9.4 million members and constituents. The non-profit organization is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals and equine protection, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, animals in research and farm animal welfare. The group protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy, and fieldwork. The group is based in Washington, D.C., and has numerous field representatives across the country. More information is online at http://www.hsus.org. For more information about the teaching innovation award, go to http://www.crle.org/prog_course_awards.asp

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu; Program: Teresa Mangum, teresa-mangum@uiowa.edu, 319-335-0323

OTHER INFORMATION: http://www.crle.org/prog_course_awards.asp