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Week 5. Bodies

This week is all about human and non-human difference, race, sex, monsters, cyborgs, where bodies start and end and what they tell us about ourselves and about others.

What to do during week 5

  • You are now hopefully growing more comfortable with exploring the readings, exercises, and proofs!
  • Either this week or next week, complete the Mid-Course Self-Evaluation from the Self-Evaluation guidance under Assessment. This is for your personal use, and we think it will be quite useful! This will also help you get started on the self-evaluation you submit at the end of the course.
  • Continue to practice citation, paraphrasing, and summarising from the How to Use a Text excercise. You will need to demonstrate these skills in your portfolio submission.
  • The mid-semester feedback form is here. It requires your student login but it does not record your name, so you may consider it anonymous.
  • Sign up to visit the Edinburgh Anatomical Museum on either 22 or 29 February (we can only accommodate 20 students per date). After you have signed up, prepare to complete the Anatomical Museum Exercise while you are there.

Lecture Slides

Unit 5 slides (UoE login required)


Critical Thinking

  1. List some features or aspects of your body. What makes your body human? How do you recognize humanness in other bodies? What makes a nonhuman body nonhuman? What makes it a body?
  2. Pay attention this week to how your personal experience and identity of sex, gender, and race shapes your daily life. How does it change how you interact with people? which spaces you enter and what you do there? what assumptions others make about you and you make about others? How do these experiences relate to specific parts of your response to exercise 1?
  3. What makes a body normal or abnormal? How are built spaces designed around normal or abnormal bodies, and how do people modify bodies and spaces to accommodate normality or abnormality?

Anatomical Museum

For those who signed up to visit the university's Anatomical Museum next week or the week after, please prepare to complete the exercise here during and after your visit. Some of these questions also apply to other collections in the city that you might visit to explore the history of bodies, such as the Wohl Pathology Museum.

Reading Guide

Recent students have found the articles of Schiebinger (Anatomy of Difference) and Qureshi especially helpful starting points for this unit.

  • Anatomy and medicine: Kuriyama, Duden, Cunningham, Kemp (in Bynum), Jordanova (in Bynum), Kemp et al, Park
  • Sex: Laqueur, Fausto-Sterling, Schiebinger (Skeletons), Haraway, Park
  • Race: Fausto-Sterling (in Terry), Haraway, Stepan, Stocking, Kuklick, Painter, Kendi
  • Mechanisms: Truitt, Voskuhl, Garber (in Roux et al), Tresch


A. Bodily features or qualities have often been taken to show something essential about a person or group of people. Identify and discuss an example of this from the course materials for this unit, explaining the motivations and scientific ideas connected to your chosen corporeal essentialism.

B. Bodies often fail to conform to the ideas people have held about them. Using course materials from this unit, identify and discuss an example of a historical response to a variant or exceptional body (or bodies) and how this response related to ideas and practices of normalcy and variation.

C. Human bodies are unusual scientific objects in that they are capable of speaking on their own behalf, but (like all scientific objects) can also be made to speak through various forms of examination and manipulation. Using materials from this unit, identify and discuss a specific historical context of producing scientific evidence from a human body or bodies.

intro/bodies.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/12 08:03 by mjb