About Gendered Bodies

This is the companion blog to the Fall 2011 “Gendered Bodies” course at Ohio University. In this course, we’ll look at how gendered bodies are created through systems of power, and how we embody gender.

We will use primarily phenomenological and Foucaultian approaches to examine how gender is embodied in arenas such beauty, race, sports and play, menstruation, sexuality, disability, cancer, intersex, transgender and transsexuals, and pregnancy. The sorts of questions we’ll address include:

  • How has power shaped these embodied phenomena? How they might be experienced differently under different configurations of power?
  • How do shame, fear, joy, pleasures, pain, self-surveillance, movement and comportment reinforce gendered power? How do they sometimes contest dominant relations of power?
  • How might ideas and discourses collide with the “lived body” – specifically, how do women and men experience their bodies with regard to scientific and medical power/knowledge?

Our readings will emphasize women’s bodies. This is in part because the literature on men’s bodies is relatively limited. In part, “the body” still tends to be more salient to women due to their long-standing identification with nature and fleshiness. However, in this class we will try to keep a comparative perspective, examining men’s bodily experiences and the discourses that shape them, as well. My hope is that this blog will take a similar tack. Most of all, it’s intended to provide a space where people of all genders can try out new perspectives.

[The banner art is excerpted from Gustav Klimt’s Wasserschlangen 2.]

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