History | Body Issues: Conceptualizing the Body in Modern History
J300 | 12000 | Maglen


A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class COLL intensive writing section
Above class open to undergraduates only

Over the last two hundred and fifty years the human body has been
viewed, displayed, dissected, and discussed in ways that both
reflect and contradict the culture and politics of the times.
Whether cursed and dismembered or adorned and fetishised, the body
has always been a site of intense meaning and the locus of immense
power. This class surveys various doctrines and theories about the
human body and their place in science, nature, and culture. The
ideas and materials we will analyse are situated at the intersection
of history, medicine, anthropology, art, politics, race, gender, and
economics. For example, students will explore the continued tensions
that links the very personal domain of the body with very public
discourses and attempts to control individual bodies within notions
of a greater ‘social body’; they will see how industrialists and
their agents sought to understand the worker’s body as a machine
which was subject to inefficiency and fatigue; and learn how patrons
of the ‘freak’ show sought to situate themselves within broad
definitions of race, gender, ‘normality’ and ‘abnormality’. The
course is structured in three parts examining the broad themes
of ‘the body and the state’, ‘constructing the bodies of ‘others’’,
and ‘making ‘beautiful’ bodies.’