R1A - 002 | CCN: 22139

The Craft of Writing

Rhetoric of Bodily Senses

Instructor: Kuan Hwa

4 Units

How does sense and sentience shape our cultural understanding? Are human senses simply innate or can they themselves be cultivated and altogether transformed by art, technology, beliefs, language, or cultural practices? In this course, we will investigate broad themes of cultural sense and sensibility in art and theories of embodiment. In this multi-sensory classroom environment, we aim to increase both textual and sensory literacy, and demonstrate our critical reading through a series of short essays and weekly writing assignments. We will read a breadth of traditional academic texts as well as visit BAMPFA and conduct close readings of artwork to practice observation and inference, and to supplement our phenomenological studies.

Some critical questions we will confront in this class include:

-What are the senses and how many are there? According to whom? What are the argumentative means that various writers use to identify the senses and how might these means restrict or enable their definition or even their abilities?

-Do media and sensual objects like film or MSG correspond only to particular organs like the eye and tongue, or do they direct themselves to an integrated sensorium? How do media or sensual objects habituate the senses and therefore educate us or produce certain subjectivities and dispositions through their formal qualities and affordances?

-What are the senses across different socio-historical, cultural, and material contexts, and why might they be construed in the way that they are?

-If each sense is characteristically different, what specifically can be learned from each? Does sensory knowledge carry over into other forms of thought and if so in what ways?

-What is the role of both notation and representation in sensing the world?

Readings include short textual selections from Leonado Da Vinci, René Descartes, Friedrich von Schiller, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Henri Bergson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Georg Simmel, Pierre Bourdieu, Yuasa Yasuo, J. J. Gibson, Constance Classen, Jonathan Crary, Svetlana Alpers, Arindum Dutta, Daniel HellerRoazen, David Howes, and Jacques Rancière. Contemporary artworks include selections from Meret Oppenheim, Mona Hatoum, Lorna Simpson, Christian Marclay, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Joseph Kosuth, Anish Kapoor, Nikki S. Lee, and Samira Yamin.