[Currently enrolled students should be able to access details on class times, locations, handouts, etc., via the "Detailed Schedule" under the "Spring Program Resources" link. If you have trouble accessing the "Program Resources" link, contact the faculty for access key.]
Bodies of Knowledge is a year–long study of the body and what we have come to know about the body. We focus our inquiry each quarter on significant dimensions we associate with the body – the physical body, and its relation to the mind and to the soul.
We approached our study of the body in fall quarter from multiple perspectives, drawing from biological, literary, philosophical and anthropological accounts. Our aim was to understand the body as we have observed it, reflected on it, and created knowledge about it. Over the course of the quarter we read the following books: Orlando by Virginia Woolf; The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (selections) by Michel Foucault; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; French DNA by Paul Rabinow; Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi; and Biological Science (selections) by Scott Freeman. We also read essays and selections by Clifford Geertz, Gregory Bateson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Evelyn Fox Keller. In addition to our reading, we experienced varying modes of inquiry about the body. In three weekly labs – in art, ethnography and biology – we pursued our study of the body using the tools and methods of those fields of study.
In winter quarter, we turned our attention to the mind and its relationship to the body, and especially to the brain. We continued to draw from biological, literary, artistic, philosophical and anthropological material as a way to pursue questions like the following: What are the many forces that shape the development of our mind? How is the development of mind influenced by biological and neurological functions? What is the impact on the developing mind of our relationships with other people—particularly relationships in early childhood? How is the development of the mind connected with the emotions we experience in our bodies? What accounts for the experience of thinking, and the very different ways in which people think? What do we mean when we talk about a “life of the mind”? We pursued these questions reading the following texts: The Man Without Qualities (Vol. 1) by Robert Musil; The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio Damasio; The Cradle of Thought: Exploring the Origins of Thinking by Peter Hobson; Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt; Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment by Joao Biehl; Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf; An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks; Upheavals of Thought by Martha Nussbaum; and Biological Science (selections) by Scott Freeman.
In spring quarter, we will turn our attention to the soul. All cultures recognize a soul, and have created knowledge of it and the world the soul inhabits after death. Our inquiry will focus on the knowledge various cultures have created of the soul and the ways in which people experience the soul. To do so, we will study death and burial rites in a variety of cultures, literature in which the soul is a key character, and religious and spiritual texts that address the soul. In addition to our common program study, each student will develop a 4-credit independent project. The project can involve research, involvement in a community organization, or some other study.
The tentative weekly schedule is as follows:
- Tuesday: 9:00 – 3:00 Lecture and Seminar
- Wednesday: 9:00 – 1:00 Lecture and Workshop
- Thursday: 9:00 – 4:00 Project meetings and advising sessions
- Friday: 9:00 – 12:00 Workshop or Seminar