Bodies That Matter


Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters

Taught by

health science, public health, bioethics
social psychology, gender and women's studies
anthropology, education

Bodies are tangible; they have form and substance, a materiality that we can perceive, sense, and touch. Bodies, too, can sense and feel the world they inhabit—the heat of the sun, the pain of a thorn, the coolness of water, the slap of an insult, the jolt from a pleasant surprise. Bodies are organisms that grow, change, and die. It is within these bodies that we experience what we call a life. And yet, bodies are also signs; like a text, we learn to read (and misread) our body and the bodies of others. The color, size, age, and sex of a body (among other features) are computed to determine meaning and value. Some bodies matter in our cultural, political, historical field more than others; some bodies are prized and imitated.

The body, in its psychological, biological, and social realms, will be at the center of our study. We will investigate the knowledge we have created about the body and how that knowledge relates to broader cultural, historical, environmental, and political forces. Our study will integrate current research and scholarship from the fields of psychology, biology, anthropology, feminist epistemology and philosophy, public health, literature, and sociology. We will study introductory anatomy and physiology—the basics of how our bodies work—in order to know something about the physical matter of which our bodies are comprised, and concepts in public health that help us to understand the contexts which determine health and illness. Our work in social psychology will examine the everyday interplay between embodied individuals and the social world in which we live, move, think, emote, and act. Through anthropological, sociological, and feminist lenses, we will examine the history, institutions, and cultural beliefs that shape how and why bodies are judged to be healthy or sick, normal or abnormal, beautiful or ugly, virtuous or deviant, powerful or weak.

In this lower-division program for freshmen and sophomores, we will pay special attention to nurturing intellectual skills and sensibilities. In particular, we will help students learn to listen and observe attentively, do close and critical reading with challenging texts, contribute clear and well developed writing, make relevant contributions to seminar discussions, and acquire research and laboratory skills in biology, social psychology, and anthropology.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

psychology, biology, health sciences, anthropology, sociology, science, and technology studies.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day

Advertised schedule: First winter class meeting : Tuesday, January 5 at 9:30am (Sem II E1105)


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$20 per quarter for entrance fees.


Date Revision
December 21st, 2015 Laura Citrin has left the teaching team; enrollment has been reduced.
November 2nd, 2015 This program will accept new winter enrollment with signature.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Sophomore; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 60


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10211
So (16 credits): 10212

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Students who wish to join us winter quarter are required to meet with one of the 3 faculty members in advance (before enrollment) in order to assess their preparation for the program. Email faculty at ; ; or to set up an appointment. In your email, describe your interest in the program, list the name of your current faculty member for us to contact, and attach a recent writing sample. Students who will be most prepared for joining Bodies That Matter are those who have taken some introductory biology, introductory psychology, or introductory anthropology, and/or have some familiarity with scholarship on race, ethnicity, social class, sex, and gender.  New students who join in Winter will be required to read two of our fall quarter books and write an essay on these books due during Week 1 of the Winter quarter.

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20101
So (16 credits): 20102
(1-16 credits): 20535

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