Sociolog(ies) of the Body

Intermediate—Spring

The body is a socially constructed entity that is intimately connected to our subjectivity in such a way that it formulates consciousness and identity. The body rises out of interactions and the practices and performances that at once develop and sustain self but are also constructed by society and the order of things.The body is, therefore, an object and a subject; and it is the process of embodiment, of the subject filling in the object, that: 1) reflexively defines one’s identity; and 2) simultaneously constructs a symbolic meaning and significance of a body for the social world. This intermediate-level seminar explores how this embodiment occurs and the various modes from which it does. We examine the narratives that we tell ourselves, the discourses told of us, and the stories that others tell of themselves. In doing so, we traverse the breadth of theories and issues that make up sociolog(ies) of the body: from the politics of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation to piercing and tattoos, from preoccupations with the healthy and ill body to alterations like plastic surgery and human genetic engineering.