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First-Year Writing Seminar: The Body Politic and the Politics of the Body in American Culture

Semester and Year FA 2011
Course Number FIRST-UG382
Section 001
Instructor Neil Meyer
Days Tue,Thu
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


When a group of English Puritans sailed for New England, John Winthrop told them they would become "members of the same body." As Winthrop assigned some to be the heart, the head, and the limbs of their new colony he inaugurated an imagination of the American body that runs from the first colonial encounters to today. This class will examine the complex work of creating, describing, writing, and quite simply "inventing" American bodies. Through analytic and reflective writing, we will consider how the discourses of history, literature, psychology, and politics employ images and ideas about the body to represent the nation. Our own writing will explore the complex issues that arise when considering bodies and their representation, including representations of slavery, the women’ s rights movement, and the birth of the modern homosexual identity. Writing assignments will include a course blog, critical and descriptive essays, and feature workshops and revision as key parts of the learning process. Readings may include works by Susan Bordo, Charles Chesnutt, Lisa Duggan, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Harriet Jacobs, and others.



Course Type

First-Year Program: Writing Seminars (FIRST-UG)

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New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
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