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ENG586: Writing the Body

"I've only ever wanted to write about what it feels like to be alive, and it turns out being alive is always about being in a body.

"I've only ever wanted to write about what it feels like to be alive, and it turns out being alive is always about being in a body. We're never not in bodies: that's just our fate and our assignment." (Leslie Jamison, "Why Writing About Bodies Is Vital.") What are the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies? In this course, we'll study how representations of the body in art, diary, poetry, nonfiction and more inform our thoughts about the body and whether or not we are who we are despite our bodies or because of our bodies. How does our understanding of the body change when the body is an object, a subject, invisible or hypervisible? Course texts may include works by Eliot, Woolf, Frankl, Grealy, Carver, Larkin, Atwood, Baldwin, Purpura, Rankine, Washuta, Patchett, Jamison and Winterson. Students may also be asked to curate select classes by choosing poems, essays or excerpts from texts already on our reading list to discuss through the lens of the body. Writing assignments will range from the descriptive (the body in form) to the contemplative (the body in culture).