R1A-003 | CCN: 25402

The Craft of Writing

The Body in Time: Rhetorics of Materiality and Temporality

Instructor: Michelle Velasquez-Potts & Kel Montalvo

4 Units

M/W/F 4:00PM-5:00PM Dwinelle 209
 

This course examines two complex and intertwined philosophical concepts—embodiment and temporality—to investigate how the body is mediated and constituted through time. Throughout the semester, we will attempt to define, critique, and deconstruct our ideas of how we define the body, its relationship to temporality, and the wider political and cultural effects of this relationship.

The class is divided into three units, each organized around a set of critical concepts: Unit 1) The Spectral Body: Memory, Trauma, and Archive; Unit 2) The Speculative Body: Technology and the Future; Unit 3) The Body Politic: Embodiment, Identity, and the Time of Politics. The first unit focuses on memory’s role in the constitution of the body, as well as what bodies are accorded a place in our culture’s historical archive. The second unit looks at how bodies are determined with reference to the future, and how technology alters both the materiality of bodies and our philosophical conceptions of what a body is and what it can do. Finally, the third unit considers the political implications of the body’s relation to time, analyzing how sexual, racial, and cultural differences complicate dominant temporal logics, and interrogating the possibilities for alternative or oppositional forms of temporality. Course readings will include authors and theorists such as José Muñoz, Michel Foucault, Octavia Butler, and Donna Haraway.

Through these readings, as well as through class discussions and essays, we will pursue questions such as: 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?