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The Body Project
overview of the common assignment
The Body Project is the common assignment for COR 240: Bodies, which means that every student regardless of your focus section will need to complete it by the end of the semester. The Body Project is based on a phenomenological research design, where you will be identifying, researching, and reflecting on an "embodied experience" related to your course focus. While all experiences are embodied, an embodied experience is one that problematizes, highlights, or draws attention to the body and embodiment. This embodied experience will be your object of study or "phenomena" (sec. 1: What is phenomenology?).
Each professor will have their own unique versions and requirements for the Body Project, but the general outline of the common assignment is as follows:
- the proposal - identify the embodied experience you plan to study; outline the techniques/strategies you plan to use to study that embodied experience; address ethical considerations related to your proposed research design
- research notes and discussion essay - collect information about your embodied experience and record them in your research notes; write a discussion essay that summarizes your research notes, makes connections to concepts covered in the course, and critically reflects on the research process
- contextual analysis - examine your embodied experience from its historical and cultural contexts from multiple perspectives, including different academic disciplines/fields; this component may be requirement for your discussion essay or a separate assignment like an annotated bibliography or slideshow
- cultural artifact - after each student completes their own individual phenomenological research project, you will join a team (or your entire class might together) to create a cultural artifact; the cultural artifact makes connections between the different embodied experiences studied by each team member and concepts in the course; it needs to make a substantive claim about embodiment
- the Bodies Exhibition at the Core Convivium - cultural artifacts from each focus section will be put on display during the Core Convivium, the all-campus event that occurs at the conclusion of the fall semester; the project must stand on its own, which means someone doesn't need to be there to explain how the artifact makes connections between the different embodied experiences (i.e. you will need to provide a title card and a written statement of purpose)
- Articulate conceptions of “embodiment” and the role they play in the construction of knowledge (in the proposal, research notes and discussion essay, cultural artifact, and Bodies Exhibition)
- Analyze socio-cultural expectations about physical difference in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and ability using a variety of media and genres (in the proposal, research notes and discussion essay, contextual analysis, cultural artifact, and Bodies Exhibition)
- Situate cultural representations and practices related to the body in the multiple contexts of the Western tradition (in the contextual analysis)
- Research and analyze ethical debates about the modification and manipulation of bodies (in the proposal, discussion essay, contextual analysis, and Bodies Exhibition)
Smith, David Woodruff, "Phenomenology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/phenomenology/
Katheryn Wright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Core Divison
This page contains links to short explanations of the different methodologies used to understand bodies and embodiment.
A methodology is a systematic procedure or theoretical framework that can be used to study a particular subject. A broad range of methodologies in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities have been used to study the body depending on research question. In COR 240: Bodies, you will not be dissecting anything or learning about human anatomy. Rather, you will be using methodological tools that are important in the liberal arts and humanities.
The first is interpretive textual analysis, which you will use when you analyze different representations of the body in the arts and popular culture. Simply stated, interpretive textual analysis "decodes" the meaning of the artifact under question whether it be a painting, film, story, essay, or performance. The second is contextual analysis. Both interpretive textual analysis and contextual analysis look at texts, but the latter focuses on using texts to understanding the cultural situation of the time and place when and where the text was created.
The third methodology you will learn about and use is phenomenology, or the study of "phenomena" or direct experience. Phenomenology is both an important philosophical tradition and series of methods researchers used to study experience. For the body project, you will be designing and implementing your own phenomenological research project about an embodied experience.
Katheryn Wright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Core Division