Universität Augsburg, 2011

This seminar explores the ways in which the expeirence of embodiment affects our beign in thought, language and text. It has a strong theoretical component, and takes as its starting point in the well-known neglect of the body by philosophers from Plato to Descartes, but then focuses on the tension between “civilized” and resistant bodies (Norbert Elias and Michail Bachtin), theories of perception and memory (Aleida Assmann and Maurice Merleau-Ponty), and the embeddedness of language in embodiment (Lakoff/Johnson). We discuss, too, how contemporary artists such as Chris Burden, Tracey Emin, and Orlan respond to such concerns.

Embodiment in literature raises a broad range of ideas and challenges when it comes to the relation between materiality and text. The reading list reflects that broad horizon, and introduces students to a range of texts form different historical and cultural background, but with a focus on contemporary literature. Topics addressed in the readingsinclude disability and diverse forms of corporeality and mindedness; pain and pleasure; sensory experience and mentation; new materialist approaches to embodiment; bodies and literary form.

Core Reading:

The Winnebago Trickster Cycle

Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

Jean Toomer, “Portrait in Georgia”

Gwendolyn B. Bennett, “To a Dark Girl”

Helene Johnson, “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Don DeLillo, Falling Man