In this course, we will explore how biology and culture are inseparable from each other, and together shape our understanding of bodies and gender. There is not merely one way to think about what a “body” is, or what it means to be “female” or “male” – across the world, across different time periods, and even between groups who seem similar to each other, there is great variability in how people approach these questions. The American context is inflected with race and class differences and inequalities, influenced by multiculturalism and the movement of people across the world, and shaped by American values. We will think about how “experience” is produced by the combination of physical, mental, social, and cultural conditions, and about the ways people are treated differently because of their body or gender identity/expression. We will begin with a look at the rise of modern medicine and the role science plays in a maintaining a certain way of thinking about both bodies and gender. Next, we will examine how cultural ideas about beauty are both diverse and increasingly homogeneous, and why ideals of beauty are often gender-specific. Finally, we will turn to work and investigate what gender has to do with what kinds of labor are considered valuable, and in what ways bodies can become commodities. The emphasis of our approach will be on how the relationship between gender and bodies is experienced in everyday life by ordinary people. To this end, a variety of materials will be used, including cultural theory, ethnographies, fiction, newspaper articles, advertisements, political tracts, websites, and film.
We are no longer admitting high school students to the 2018 Summer Session.
High School Students
Arts & Sciences
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