Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Body in Culture and Society

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Anthropological Sciences

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is designed to provide students with insights into various aspects of the body across culture and history. The course will be composed of two dimensions. It will explore the history of theorization of the body in social theory and the debates they have given rise to. These include: Body techniques, Symbolic Anthropology, Phenomenological approaches, Enactment theory, Post-Structural approaches, and finally Psychoanalysis and the body.

Secondly it will focus on select issues that have been at the centre of research of the body. These will include: Illness, Disability and Ageing, Body and Difference: Class, gender and race, Body modification: Tattoos, cosmetic surgery, Technology and the body: Cybernetics, Prosthetics and the virtual body, and Religion and the Body.
• The Body and the built environment.
• Religion and the body.

The unit will be guided by an analysis of the body in modernity and the impact of modernization on the experience of the body in modernity. The students will be encouraged to develop their own research in relation to one of the focused topic areas.

Study-unit Aims

This unit will aim to:
• Offer students an insight into the social and cultural dimensions to embodiement.
• Enable students to examine the role that the body plays in the construction of power in modern society.
• Provide students with a historical understanding of the body.
• Alert students to current and classical theoretical perspectives and debates in the sociology and anthropology of the body.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• Provide an overview of the history of theorization of the body and reproduce that knowledge under examination conditions
• Pursue their own research agenda into one of the focused topics by means of a research assignment.
• Understand the body as more than a biological object.
• Understand the importance of an in depth analysis of the experiential and discursive dimensions of embodiment in modernity in order to provide informed anthropological and sociological contributions to the contemporary ethical and legal questions that characterize modernity.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• Read critically and selectively and make sense of a range of case studies in relation to classical and contemporary theory
• Navigate with confidence online journal databases.
• Write an essay with a clear structure that makes use of theoretical knowledge.
• Develop the ability to synthesize knowledge and present it in a clear and concise manner in examination conditions.
• Apply anthropological perspectives to diverse areas of contemporary modern life.
• Be able to develop the capacity to work in a team through their presentations in the unit.

All of these skills are transferable and will prove invaluable to students in other subjects as well in any future careers they undertake.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

General text books and Readers:

• Howson, Alexandra (2004) The Body in society Cambridge: Polity. [Not in library]
• Blackman, Lisa (2008) The Body: Key Concepts Oxford: Berg.[Not in library]
• Fraser, Miriam & Greco, Monica (2005) The Body: A Reader London: Routledge. [In library]

A Reader will be provided.

Select Bibliography:

1. Pile, S. (1996) The Body and the City. London: Routledge. [In library]
2. Sennett, R. (2002) Flesh and Stone. London: Penguin. [Not in library]
3. Bourdieu, P. (2004) The peasant and his body. Ethnography 5: 579-599
4. Shilling, Chris (2003) The body and social theory. London: Sage [Not in library]
5. Turner, B. (1997) The Body & Society. London: Sage. [In library]
6. Mennell, S. (1990) Decivilizing Processes: theoretical significance and some lines of research, International Sociology 5(2): 205-223.
7. Featherstone, M. (1991) The Body in Consumer Culture. In The Body: Social Process and Cultural Theory, Featherstone, M., Hepworth, M. & Turner, B. S. (Eds.) London: Sage. [In library]
8. Filmer, Paul (1999) Embodiment and Civility in Early Modernity: Aspects of Relations between Dance, the Body and Sociocultural Change, Theory and Society 5(1) 1-16
9. Falk, Pasi (1994) The Consuming Body London: Sage (See Chapter 3). [Not in library]
10. Elias, Norbert (1994) The Civilizing Process London: Blackwell. (See Book 1 Chpt 1) [In library]
11. Auge, M & Herzlich, C. (Eds.) (1995) The Meaning of Illness: Anthropology, History and Sociology Luxembourg: Harwood.[Not in library].
12. Lee, J. J. H. (2002) Discourses of Illness, Meanings of Modernity. In Under Construction, Ed. L. Kendall. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press: 55-79. [Not in library]
13. Sontag, S. (1979) Illness as Metaphor. London: Penguin Books. [Not in library]
14. De Swaan, Abram (1990) The Management of Normality. London: Routledge. [Not in Library].
15. Laquer, Thomas (1990) Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. [Not in library]
16. Gallagher, C. & Laquer, T. (Eds.) The Making of the Modern Body.California: University of California Press. [In library]
17. Evans, B. (2006) 'I'd Feel Ashamed': Girls' Bodies and Sports Participation. Gender, Place and Culture 13(5): 547-561.
18. Azzarito, L. and M. A. Solmon (2006) A Feminist Poststructuralist View on Student Bodies in Physical Education: Sites of Compliance, Resistance, and Transformation Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 25(2): 200-225.
19. Skattebol, J. (2006) Playing boys: the body, identity and belonging in the early years. Gender and Education 18(5): 507-522.
20. Lutz, Catherine & Bartlett, Lesley (1998) Disciplining social difference: Some Cultural Politics of Military Training in Public High Schools The Urban Review (30)2: 119-136
21. Bordo, S. (1993) Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press. (Chapter 1: Introduction: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body) [On order in library].
22. Grieve, N. (1994) Can a Boy be a Girlfriend? The Legacy of Gender Segregation in Childhood Play. In Australian Women, Ed. N. Grieve and A. Burns. Melbourne: Oxford University Press: 257-272.
23. Foucault, M. (1984) Docile Bodies. In The Foucault Reader, Ed. P. Rabinow. Middlesex: Penguin Books. (See also ‘The Means of Correct Training’)
24. Young, I. M. (1990) Throwing like a girl and other essays in feminist philosophy and social theory Bloomington: Indiana University Press. [Not in library]
25. Mauss, M. (2006) Techniques of the Body. In Marcel Mauss: Techniques, Technology and Civilisation, SCHLANGER, N. (Ed.) New York: Berghahen Books. [Not in library]
26. Laidlaw, J. (2005) A life worth Leaving: fasting to death as telos of a Jain religious life. Economy and Society. 34: 178-199
27. Eilberg-Schwartz, H. (1992) The Problem of the Body for the People of the Book. In People of the Body: Jews and Judaism from an Embodied Perspective, Ed. H. Eilberg-Schwartz. Albany: State University of New York: 17-47. [Not in library]
28. Douglas, M. (1966) Purity and danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. London: Routledge and K. Paul. [In library]
29. Crapanzano, V. (1992) Hermes' Dilemma & Hamlet's Desire. Cambridge Harvard University Press. (See Chapter 7, pg. 155-187 ) [Not in library]
30. Varela, C. (1999) Determinism and the Recovery of Human Agency: The Embodying of Persons Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 29(4): 385-402.
31. Shilling, C. (2001) The Embodied Foundations of Social Theory. In Handbook of Social Theory, Ed. G. Ritzer and B. Smart. London: Sage: 439-457. [Not in library].
32. Holliday, R. (2001) Contested Bodies. New York: Routledge. [not in library]
33. Shilling, C. (1999) Towards an embodied understanding of the structure/agency relationship. British Journal of Sociology 50(4): 543-562.
34. Eckermann, L. (1997) Foucault, Embodiment and Gendered Subjectivities: The Case of Voluntary Self-Starvation. In Foucault, health and medicine Ed. A. Petersen and R. Bunton. London: Routledge: 151-169. (Good collection of readings and applications of Foucault, See also the introduction by Turner)
35. Crossley, N. (1996) Body-Subject/Body-Power: Agency, Inscription and Control in Foucault and Merleau-Ponty. Body & Society 2(2): 99-116.
36. Shilling, C. (2007) Sociology and the body: Classical traditions and new agendas. The Sociological Review 55(1): 1-18.
37. Crossley, N. (2007) Researching embodiment by way of ‘body techniques'. The Sociological Review 55(1): 80-94
38. Goffman, E. (1968) Stigma London: Penguin. [In library]


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Essay Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Gisella Orsini

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.