How do socioeconomic inequalities affect our bodies? In what ways do governments, corporations, and institutions regulate and control bodies and populations? How are new technologies transforming the ways in which we understand our bodies? How have relationships among mind, body, and society changed across cultures and historical periods? This course addresses these important questions by exploring how bodies are produced,
portrayed, and contested in different times and places across the globe.

We will challenge the preconception that bodies are natural and pre-given entities which exist outside of the forces of culture, politics, and history. We will use the body as a lens for exploring the intersections of local worlds and global processes, investigating how our daily lives are shaped by the forces of culture and power. Lectures and tutorials will draw upon diverse multimedia sources including movies, music, advertisements, exercise trackers, and participant observation. Students will learn how to communicate ideas about the body, gaining familiarity and practice with oral, written, visual, and digital literacies. Creative assignments will empower students to reflect upon both their own and others’ embodied experiences, via blogging about individual bodily practices and collectively curating an exhibition on visual representations of bodies.

Course Philosophy

This course invites students to engage with key topics through their own bodily practice and reflection upon their embodied experience. They will take up a new bodily practice and write weekly blog posts reflecting upon this process and how it connects to the larger themes of the course.

Students will connect their own embodied experience with broader global issues, from objectification to technological enhancement, to gain greater self-understanding and cross-cultural awareness simultaneously. This pedagogical strategy will be combined with exercises in media, visual, and textual analysis that teach students how to analyze body politics in their wider society and globally. By observing these practices, students will broaden their engagement with specific social and cultural contexts different from their own, investigate forms of power and social control, and reflect upon how these processes--both local and global--shape their own embodiment.