SSI1 171

Medical Discourse and the Body

The human body presents a challenging topic for discourse. The body is at once universal and yet radically subjective; everyone has a body, but not all bodies are the same or similar. Moreover, knowledge about the body varies dramatically between different groups of people. This course focuses on discourse about the body: who has authority to speak about the body? Why and for what reasons? What kinds of language do people employ when they write or speak about the body? How does their language use change depending on the audience? Students begin thinking about these questions by reading several texts about legislation debates concerning the body. A human body forms the single most basic legal entity in our society, and also perhaps the most contested. Who has power over an individual? What are the limits of that power, and how are such limitations determined? These discussions are followed by reading several accounts by doctors?people who spend their lives examining and interacting with many kinds of bodies in different situations. How do doctors understand their relationship to the kinds of bodies they see? Finally, students consider how people conceptualize their own relationship to their bodies. Affiliate department: English.