This course examines the interplay between meaning, illness, and bodily experience. We will read a range of literary, anthropological, and philosophical texts in order to explore the following questions: How do writers try to make order and meaning out of illness, and how do they use illness to talk about other aspects of experience? How might we understand illness as not merely a disorder of the body but also a disordering of meaning? Given the seemingly subjective nature of bodily experience, how does one understand or access the pain of the other? How have writers conceptualized the ailing body as a site of both creative experience and political and economic control?
This is a discussion-based course that will give students a sense of what it means to think interdisciplinarily, and to advance their skills at reading critically, analyzing arguments and literary language, and articulating ideas orally and in their writing. In addition to promoting active participation in classroom discussion, the course will help develop these skills through frequent short writing assignments and a 6-7 page final project.