The Body Politic (POL2105.02; section 2)

Crina Archer

From Plato to the present, the human body has served as a compelling metaphor for political community and the nation state. This course interrogates the mechanisms of this metaphor in its various articulations across ancient, modern, and contemporary Western political thought. In the first half of the course, we read works of political philosophy to ask whether and how the metaphor of a purportedly “universal” human body has worked to justify particular distributions of political power within a given population. The second half of the course turns to a variety of texts—philosophical, historical, literary, and scientific—that challenge models of the human body that have been privileged by much of the Western political tradition. We consider what resources might be available for re-thinking the character of “the body politic”—and the distributions of power that it authorizes—if we conceive of the human body as, for example, a cyborg, a non-unified multitude of forces, a site of the negotiation of multiple gender and sexual identities, marked by ascribed racial identities, constituted within systems of economic inequality, or evaluated by alternative notions of mental and physical “health.”

Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
M 6:30pm - 8:20pm; W 6:30pm - 8:20pm
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as All courses, Four Credit, Updates, 2000, Politics, Crina Archer.