Summer Letter


We are writing to all students currently enrolled in the program Imagining the Body to give you some information that may be useful to you as you anticipate our program. Our first class is Monday, September 29 at 9:30. The location will be posted on the college’s Web page as soon as it is finalized as well as our program web site, once our server space opens up. Our program hours are tentatively:

Mondays – 9:30-12:30 and 1:30-3:00
Wednesdays – 9:30-12:30
Thursdays – 9:30-12:00 and 1:00-4:00

Our schedule might change, given room availability. This is a rigorous full-time program and while we realize many of you may have outside obligations to work and children, you should plan on spending at least an additional 30 hours per week outside of class reading, writing, and working on program activities. There will be a small student fee associated with our program which should be published on-line in the next few weeks. Fall quarter, we will be practicing yoga each week and you can check out a mat from equipment check out at no charge, or if you have your own, please bring it along.

We are excited about getting started and have developed a good program structure to engage you in serious thinking and practical skill development relevant to interdisciplinary, collaborative work. Part of our reading list will be comprised of articles that will be available on our program web site. Below you’ll find a list of books, some of which may be used both fall and winter quarters. These books will be available in the bookstore on campus (, but if you decide to purchase them elsewhere, please make sure to use the same isbn (the same edition listed below).

Throughout the program you will undertake a major research project on the body that will culminate in a “Body Fair” presentation at the end of winter quarter, which will be open to a variety of expressive styles (visual art, performance pieces, museum-style exhibitions, poster presentations and more!). Since this project will be partly self-directed, you can start dreaming up your ideas over the summer. We look forward to exploring your ideas together in the fall.

As you are awaiting the beginning of the school year, we offer these words from Mary Douglas, a noted anthropologist:

The social body constrains the way the physical body is perceived. The physical experience of the body, always modified by the social categories through which it is known, sustains a particular view of society. There is a continual exchange of meanings between the two kinds of bodily experience so that each reinforces the categories of the other. As a result of this interaction the body itself is a highly restricted medium of expression. The forms it adopts in movement and repose express social pressures in manifold ways. The care that is given to it, in grooming, feeding and therapy, the theories about what it needs in the way of sleep and exercise, about the stages it should go through, the pains it can stand, its span of life, all the cultural categories in which it is perceived, must correlate closely with the categories in which society is seen insofar as these also draw upon the same culturally processed idea of the body.

Marcel Mauss, in his essay on the techniques of the body (1936), boldly asserted that there can be no such thing as natural behaviour. Every kind of action carries the imprint of learning, from feeding to washing, from repose to movement and, above all, sex.

-From M. Douglas (1996 [1970]), “The Two Bodies,” in Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology, London and New York: Routledge.

We invite you to think about how ideas in this passage are relevant to your own life as well as to the following question, “How does our body influence our identity, and how is our identity influenced by our body?”

See you in September.

Best Wishes,

Stacey Davis, Cynthia Kennedy, Toska Olson, Eric Stein