In this course, we’ll think of the human body as a text we can read — one that represents, responds to, and negotiates the relationships between identity and power. Tracing literary depictions of the body from ancient Rome, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, witnesses to los desaparecidos (“the disappeared”) in Latin America, and recent feminist sci-fi and speculative fiction, we will ask: What do these bodily archives make visible to us? How do literary texts both define and reimagine bodies in different ways? What do bodies tell us about histories of colonialism, knowledge production, resistance, and identity formation? Through our readings and class discussions, we will unpack how the body scripts and resists inscription, produces culture and yet is borne from it.
Readings are subject to change, but will likely include literature by Ovid, Octavia Butler, Isabel Allende, and Nella Larsen, as well as select texts from feminist, queer, postcolonial, and critical race studies. All required texts will be available in the library and for purchase at Book Culture (not to exceed $30).
Note: Many of the readings for this class depict different forms of sexual and identity-based violence. I believe these texts are important for understanding the relationships between power, identity formation, and the body. We'll spend some time as a class at the beginning of the semester talking about how we can work through the discomfort this material can prompt.