Bodies: A Digital Companion

Paleo: Introduction and Contents

Bodies: Dance is a class where we use dance as a lens to look at gender, culture, social movements, expression, and ideas of embodiment in western culture. While dance figures prominently in what we do, it's not the only way in which we'll explore the very real fact that we have bodies, and they matter. 

The fact is, if you're reading this, you have a body. How that body intersects with your identity, how that embodied identity is perceived and reflected in the culture around you, and the way in which your body is acted upon by its environment, are some aspects of bodies that we examine in this class, but often we start from a evolutionary perspective. For instance, why do you breath more shallowly when stressed? Why is it that our expression for extreme pain and extreme pleasure are similar? And why did hairless (mostly), bipedal, large-brained hominids come to dominate the planet? We'll explore all these questions and more. 

One of the ways we'll frame our investigation into our bodies is through an emerging field called embodied cognition, or EC for short. Basically, EC research suggests that thinking - decision making, abstract thought, metaphor, and even imagination and creative pursuits - live in the body and the mind. Intellect is not some floating, purely rational construct. It's embodied in your guts, bone, muscles, fat and blood. Thinking as you know it is a bodily experience - we'll explore why and what that means for us as learners, particularly at an institution that has us sitting immobile so much. 

We'll also read fiction that addresses the body, watch films that wrestle with concepts related to our corporeality, and try to come to a clearer understanding of the significance of the way we think about bodies in contemporary culture. 

Finally, in this particular section of Bodies, we'll be moving. Quite a bit, actually; salsa, swing, waltz, ballet, and hip hop, but also tree climbing, squatting, walking, stretching, and maybe even a swim or two. 

Here's some preliminary links to get us started, organized rather haphazardly by theme: 

Dance and Marriage
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Culture of Fiction by Dan Segal

The Evolution of Dance
'The Evolution of Dance' by Kevin Laland et al, Cell Press January 2016
'A Hypothesis on the biological origins and social evolution of dance and music' by Tianyan Wang, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2015

The 'O' Face
'A Common Neurobiology for Pain and Pleasure' by Siri Leknes and Irene Tracey Nature 2008
'The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals,' by Charles Darwin
'The Taser Photoshoot' by Patrick Hall, YouTube
'Beautiful Agony: Facettes de la Petite Mort" 
Superfacial Musculature Visual

Adaptation and the Body
The Hand by Frank R. Wilson
'Brown Fat as a Therapy for Obesity and Diabetes' by Aaron Cypress in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, April 2010
'Brown Fat in Humans: Turning up the Heat on Obesity' by Patrick Seale in Diabetes July 2009
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky Part I, Part II
'With the Advent of Agriculture, Human Bones Dramatically Weakened' by Carol Engelking, Discover 2014
'How the Dawn of Farming Ruined Our Teeth' by Victoria Woolloston Daily Mail Online, 2015
'Humans Hot, Sweaty, Natural Born Runners' by Alvin Powell, Harvard Gazette

The Lost Senses
'Proprioception: The Sense Within' by Uwe Proske in The Scientist, 2016
'On the Origin of Interoception' by Erik Ceunen in Frontiers in Psychology, 2016
Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense by Scott McCredie Part I, Part II, Part III

Body Parts
'Roargasm' from Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers
Breasts by Florence Williams

Sex and the Body
Nisa by Marjorie Shostak


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