HUMA 889 - Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies II
Corporeal Inscriptions, Surface Readings
*NOTE: This Humanities course is available to Inter University Doctoral students with permission from the Department of Art History's Graduate Program Director Anne Whitelaw.
INSTRUCTOR: DR. JOHN POTVIN
As a cross-disciplinary field of research and inquiry, Body Studies emerged in the brutal climate of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Amidst a decisive and deadly political and social apathy, the crisis compelled scholars and activists alike to reinsert the body into the discursive, intellectual and political landscape, once absent in second wave feminist and critical theory. With the emergence of post-structuralism the body could be (re)deployed to investigate and re-invigorate theoretical debates in ways never done before. This seminar will explore important feminist and queer interventions into the study of the body both as a physical and conceptual entity. In the very least, the body is a contested site, a surface on which myriad forms of inscriptions impose themselves. Theorists who have provided broad templates or blueprints through which to explore the body beyond disciplinary parameters will be the focus of our readings and discussions. The body itself defies disciplines and is therefore ideally suited to a cross-disciplinary engagement. We will investigate how visual and material practices (broadly understood) help and/or hinder humanistic study of the potential and limits of the body. Theorists will include Elizabeth Grosz, Michel Foucault, David Halperin, Merleau-Ponty and Roy Porter, to list only a few.
Themes include, but not limited to: The Body as:
-inscriptive, meaningful surface
-fleshy and sensory
-designed, textured, fashioned and consumed
-site of activism
-disciplined, controlled, scrutinized and surveyed
-as interface with technology and mechanistic
-locus of identity
-trafficked and sexually contested
-aberrant, abject, pathological and incomplete