Bodies in Society

Social and cultural theories of the body have transformed thinking in the last two decades. Indeed, accounts of the body and embodiment have moved from being a marginal aspect of social and theory to a central feature of how we understand and experience media culture and society. Through a series of case-studies, this module explores some of the key developments in sociological accounts of the body and the body politic (or the nation state). Throughout this module we will focus on issues of inequality, stigma, power, in/visibility, surveillance, disability, 'race' and ethnicity. Examining the body as a site of social control, and as a repository of shifting classifications, we will consider bodies which do not easily fit prevailing social and cultural norms, bodies which are perceived to be ‘out of place’, abject or deviant and bodies imagined and employed as sites of resistance and protest.

As well as gaining an understanding of some key social, cultural and political issues you will develop critical thinking, reading, writing skills and practical skills. We will go on course field-trips (for example to Lancaster Castle in order to think about the history of punishment) and you will participate in lively and challenging workshops. You will be required to arrange and pay for your own travel to and from any field trips, which are highly recommended but not compulsory. If you are unable to attend then alternatives can be discussed.

As part of the assessment for this course you will make a short film in response to themes and issues examined or provoked by lectures, screenings, reading and seminar discussions. This course is interdisciplinary and is open to students from any discipline, but has been particularly designed for Sociology, Media and Cultural Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies students.