United Kingdom, London

Culture, Body, and the City

when 24 July 2017 - 11 August 2017
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 7.5 ECTS
fee GBP 1850

This module explores the human body as a cultural category, and corporality as an anthropological dilemma.

Culturally speaking, the human body can be the most extraordinary thing. Bodies are intimately interwoven into every social place and process, and the body as a cultural entity is constantly constructed. The body is deeply informed by the cultural systems in which it is embedded, and, in turn, it can inform the world around it. This module explores the human body as a cultural category, and corporality as an anthropological dilemma.

Students will explore categories of the body: its birth and death, its gender and movement, and its senses, pain and pleasure. The ways the body is embedded in and informative of urban landscapes, and, in turn, the consequences of the city on the body, health and well-being of its residents, will be examined.

Using London as a living model, students will take excursions across the city to investigate and interpret the modern body in a chaotic and uncertain world.

Course leader

Dr Aaron Parkhurst is a Medical Anthropologist at UCL. His research includes projects on health, well-being, and the human body in humanity’s struggle with modernity and emerging technology.

Target group

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required for this module, but students are expected to have a keen interest in anthropology and/or cultural studies.

Some basic theory from both philosophy and anthropology will be covered in the introduction to the course, and will be reviewed and applied in class discussions.

Course aim

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

Have a strong introductory grounding in the human body’s career in social science;

Have learned to think through how the body is constructed both biologically and culturally, and how these constructs become meaningful in different societies and in rural and urban movements;

Have gained street experience in how the human body moves through and integrates in urban landscapes, using London as a working case study;

Have gained a holistic sense of how well-being and illness is constructed by partnering the human body with a broad range of social institutions (many of which will have been visited);

Have the ability to consider the future, and perhaps even the ‘end’ of the body, through case studies of emerging technology, medical techniques, enhancement discourses, and robotics.

Credits info

7.5 ECTS
7.5 ECTS / 4 US / 0.5 UCL

Fee info

GBP 1850: Students joining us for six weeks (two modules) will receive a tuition discount of £400.
GBP 1000: Students may select a room in our designated Summer School residence for a fee of £1000 for one three-week session. The residence is within 20 minutes walk of UCL and comprises of single occupancy bedrooms with private bathroom and shared, fully-equipped kitchen. Bedding, wifi, coin operated laundry and 24 hour security are provided.

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