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The body has always been a key site for interpretation. How do we interpret bodies in their myriad roles as targets (and agents) of disciplinary power, as the embodiment of Nature and the expression of modern cultural logics of gender, race, sexuality, and nation? How do bodies work and how they “mean”? A heavily interdisciplinary exploration of the body, this course ranges from the reading of bodies in scientific, sociological, literary, and historical texts to the interrogation of representations of the body in anthropological, philosophical, and cinematic sources. Topics will include: Discipline and the modern body; cosmetic surgery and other forms of body modification or “somatechnics”; sexual violence and narratives of trauma; commodity culture and media constructions of the body; eating disorders and cultural constructions of gender; diseased bodies, hysteria and psychoanalysis; transnational bodies and the politics of labor; technology and embodiment in a digital age. Some of the key questions that will structure our work include: What does it mean to explore the body as a socially meaningful, historical object of analysis rather than as a purely “biological entity”? How do we define “deviant” bodies and which bodies get to count as “normal”? How does our understanding of Nature and Culture, authenticity and artifice structure our beliefs about the body and gender, sexuality, ethnicity and race? What does it mean to be “embodied” and how does embodiment complicate some of the ways we think about identity and difference?