Walking: Introduction and Contents
"Walking...is how the body measures itself against the earth." - Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
A baby's first steps, hiking Mt. Mansfield, a protest march, and Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind all have in common the act of walking. It seems so simple and natural, which may be why the cultural significance of walking is often ignored. Dr. Wright's focus section "Bodies: Walking" will consider why we walk, and how the cultural history of walking intersects with our understanding of bodies in the past and present.
The simple act of walking is one of the primary ways we, as humans, come to know our own bodies. It is also how we come to know our communities and environments, the followed and unfollowed paths that become the worlds we inhabit. As you will discover, our class on walking will ask you to reconsider the meaning of place. Landscapes are made and remade through our bodies walking within them. Our main book is Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Solnit's lyrical journey is about how our bodies move through different spaces, transform those spaces and ourselves in the process.
"Bodies: Walking" (click on link to access the syllabus on Google Docs) begins by examining the walk as embodied experience. We will focus on the connection between walking and key concepts central to understanding the body: mind-body dualism, embodiment, intersectionality, physical difference, cultural norm, and stigma. We will consider these five key concepts in relation to both the art and technology of walking. Next, we will dig into the historical contexts of walking by looking at the pilgrimage, the nature walk, and walking the city. We will conclude our class by examining walking practices in the late 20th and early 21st century with an eye - or foot?! - towards understanding the power dynamics that enable certain bodies to walk freely, to occupy certain spaces, or to control the paths they take, while others cannot. We will do several experiential workshops like making a walking map of Champlain College's campus, going on a Haiku walk, wandering through the woods, and brainstorming about possible walking-based video games and apps. You will work in groups to make your own narrative walking map using your own phenomenological research as a starting point.
Required materials include a copy of Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust, portable notebook for your walking journal, and a good pair of walking shoes! The remainder of your required readings/screenings are available as content links to this page. Check out the syllabus for specific due dates.