Body and Society: Fragile Bodies

We 2:00PM - 4:30PM / 2800 Wesley W Posvar Hall / CRN 30318

How does the social world affect our bodily experiences? How is the physical body shaped, maintained, and adorned through social processes? Western philosophy traditionally looked down upon the body, associating men with disembodied mind, and women with mere corporeality. Following ground-breaking work by Mauss, Marion-Young, Haraway, Butler, Garland-Thomson, and others, the body can now be considered as a set of ‘biologico-sociological phenomena’, produced through concrete contexts and situated experiences. Through a series of close readings of texts that cut across sociology, history, gender studies, politics, and psychology, over the course of the semester the class builds up a robust conceptual framework through which students may critically reflect upon their own embodied experiences and concerns. Concerns such as:
How does race, gender, and sexuality shape experiences of embodiment? Why is there such a thing as ‘throwing like a girl’? How have bodily sensations and affects including pain, fatigue, and fear become mapped onto the worlds of everyday life, work and play, labor, and leisure? How is the body involved in acts of protest and the processes of social change? What kinds of bodies are produced in the collection of biometric data, the use of datasets and demographics in advertising, and the shared media of the quantized self? What hidden histories of bodily pain and sensory deprivation are folded into the carceral state, especially in cases of solitary confinement? How is disability and the biophysical processes of aging and disease increasingly medicalized and managed by technology? What is the future of the body, and bodily labor, in an age of increasing automation, and how are we to prepare for the impending presence of robotics in our spaces of work and leisure?

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Mark Paterson

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Category A: Text and Theory

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