Culture and the Body: Bodies in Theory and Practice
Culture and the Body: Bodies in Theory and Practice 2022-23
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Long regarded by the Western intellectual tradition as inferior to the rational mind and threatening to the 'pure' soul, the body has made a comeback in recent critical thinking and artistic practices. In this module, students will have the opportunity to engage with key thinkers from across the fields of cultural studies and critical theory. Through this engagement, students will come to question the body as a 'natural' or merely biological entity as they are introduced to critical accounts of bodies as sites of construction, control, regulation and resistance. Several distinct strands give shape to the module: the interrogation of traditional binaries (such as mind/body, nature/culture, male/female, animal/human); the critique of ahistorical notions of bodies as fixed or given; and the demonstration of how the body is a site of cultural meaning and social control. This critical exploration will take place in tandem with the investigation of representations of the body in textual and visual cultural production. Students will, therefore, be engaged in deploying theory as a means to unpack and enrich their readings of mainstream and artistic representational practices that perform meanings for the body in culture. The module is structured around four key topics chosen each year from amongst a range that may include the following: gendered bodies, cultural bodies, racialized bodies, animal bodies, disciplined bodies, abject bodies and post-human bodies. Each topic will be discussed over the course of two seminar sessions, with the first session taking a theoretical text as its object of study, while the second seminar will treat of representations or cultural productions that relate to the topic. The module is tested via continuous assessment, with two written assignments comprising the elements of its assessment.
-threshold -D- - D+: In order to merit the award of credit, students should demonstrate a solid comprehension of the position, content and interaction of the works of the theoreticians studied, succeeding in giving a clear analysis of their work. They should also demonstrate an awareness of critical thinking on the topic. -good -C- - B+: Students attaining the higher grades in this course will not only have understood the theories studied in their own right, but will explore their broader interaction in relation to the structures of identity, language and reality, paying close attention to the imagery and content of the works in question. -excellent -A- - A*: Students attaining the highest grades in this course will have produced convincing readings of both the theories studied and of their relationship as a whole. They will have supplemented set works with the confident use of either additional primary or secondary works. They will have demonstrated a very high level of engagement with the language and ideas of the pieces studied.