English | Projects In Reading and Writing: Representations of the Body and the Beauty Myth
W170 | 3131 | Hirsu


TOPIC:		Representations of the Body and the Beauty Myth
INSTRUCTOR:	Lavinia Hirsu

3131		MWF	12:20pm – 1:10pm	JH A105
7536		MWF	1:25pm – 2:15pm	JH A105

From ads for the most basic products to novels, movies, and video
clips, we are bombarded with the same message: you must be
beautiful! The “beauty myth” has become both the norm by which we
live our lives, as well as the ideal goal that nobody could ever
possibly achieve. In this course, we will try to investigate how
this myth structures what we do, how we dress, move, or behave. We
will also take a close look at the various ways in which our bodies
become the cultural messengers of the “beauty myth”. Through careful
analyses of advertisements for beauty products, literary pieces,
movies (e.g. Norbit, Shallow Hal, Big Momma’s House, What’s Eating
Gilbert Grape), and TV shows (The Biggest Loser, Dr. Phil, Tyra
Show), we will try to answer the following questions: What does it
mean to be beautiful? How does the body contest, resist, confirm, re-
inscribe, or challenge “the beauty myth”? Does the “beauty myth”
tell only one story? How does the “beauty myth” intersect with race,
gender, and class? What are the consequences of looking in a mirror
and wishing we were somebody else?

Throughout the course, we will not only develop cultural analyses of
the “beauty myth” in different mediums and genres, but we will also
use them as a springboard for building reading, writing, research
strategies and rhetorical moves that will help us engage with a
variety of texts (fictional and non-fictional, written and visual,
popular and academic).