Writing Machinists may be interested in Scott Richmond’s 8006 seminar on “The Mediated Body” being offered this Winter (2011) semester. Full description after the jump.
Humanistic reflection on the body has made clear that “the body” is not only a problem for the biological and medical sciences, especially at a time when such disciplines are exerting increasing control over life. Rather, “embodiment” names the problem of how social, cultural, psychic, experiential, and aesthetic mediations make the body not only a biological object but also a lived body. This course aims to open up the field of inquiry where the lived body is also always the mediated body. The major figures of the course—and, in some sense, the two poles of contemporary approaches to embodiment—are Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Michel Foucault. Roughly the first half of the course will be dedicated to these two thinkers and their very different approaches to embodiment. The rest of the course will address two complimentary tasks: on the one hand, working toward a reconciliation of sorts between Foucault and Merleau-Ponty; and, on the other, investigating scenes of the mediation of the body—in both senses that locution may have. We will follow, on the one hand, Merleau-Ponty’s slogan that “the body is a general medium for having a world.” On the other, we will focus explicitly on scenes of embodied encounters with media, most significantly cinema, contemporary installation art, and digital media. That is, we will attend simultaneously to the body’s encounter with media, and its complementary role as mediator. Beyond Foucault and Merleau-Ponty, we will read theorists such as Marcel Mauss, Roger Caillois, Walter Benjamin, Georges Canguilhem, Jacques Lacan, Jean Laplanche, Donna Haraway, Rosalind Krauss, Judith Butler, Giorgio Agamben, Mark Hansen, and Eugene Thacker. This is a reading-intensive course. Students will be expected to develop significant research papers over the course of the semester.”