2017 - Spring: Issues and Ideas: Writing the Body

Course Number: JOUR-UA-505.001

Day & Time: Thurs 3:30pm-6:10pm

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 655

Instructor: Carol Sternhell

To what extent are we our bodies?  Do we inhabit them, flee them, celebrate them, transcend them?  How do others “read” our bodies?  Are we accepted by our culture … admired … despised?  Writing the Body is a course for everyone with a body—a female body, a male body, or a body of uncertain gender.  We will read a wide variety of individual body-centered accounts (What is it like to be quadriplegic and only be able to move your mouth?  What is it like to be very fat?) and cultural analyses (If egg and sperm both move to meet in the Fallopian tube, who decided to call the sperm active and the egg passive?  Is plastic surgery barbaric or empowering?).  Topics discussed will include—but not be limited to—beauty, weight, sex, rape, menstruation, abortion, penis size, transgender identity, body modification (tattoos, piercing, and beyond), disability, and race.

Student participation in this seminar is key:  students are expected to attend all sessions, to complete all the reading, to participate actively in discussion, and to lead one of the class sessions themselves.  Leading a class means opening the day’s conversation with a presentation, critiquing and elaborating on the assigned reading, bringing in additional relevant material, and suggesting questions or issues that seem particularly interesting or troublesome.

In addition to extensive reading and discussion, students will write several versions of their own stories of embodiment.