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

Final Schedule and Room Assignment


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$20 per quarter for entrance fees.

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

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20101
So (16 credits): 20102

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