R1B - 005 | CCN: 24500

The Craft of Writing

Body Politics: Embodiment, Identity, Milieu

Instructor: Michelle Potts and Kelie Montalvo

4 Units

In this course we will take up the body as an object of study, paying particular attention to how the body is figured in political, philosophical, and scientific discourse. We will start the semester by questioning how we define the body in ontological (what a body is), hermeneutical (what a body means) and epistemological (how a body means) terms. We will then interrogate how the body is constituted and inscribed in relation to social space and its material environment. We will end the course by considering how science and technology alter or supplement our understanding of the body and reconstitute its boundaries. Some of the questions we will ask this semester include: What determines a "normal" or “healthy” body versus an abnormal one? How do race, gender, sexuality, and other markers of social difference mediate what a body can do? How might forms of embodiment provide the condition of possibility for political and social change? How do we differentiate the human from the non-human body? Is the body a purely "natural" or biological organism? Is it a product of "culture"? How does technology complicate the nature/culture divide? Examining the body as a site of political investment and production, this class will study texts by writers including Michel Foucault, Saidiya Hartman, René Descartes, Frantz Fanon, Octavia Butler and others to contemplate how and to what end the body is produced and constituted by power and how it might provide the grounds for resistance.

The course will be divided into three units organized thematically:
1) Somatics of Truth
2) Geographies of the Body
3) The (Bio-)Technological Prosthesis