Literature and the 21st Century Body
The 21st century brings with it unprecedented challenges and opportunities for the human body: from the meteoric rise in cosmetic and transplant surgery, to charged debates over new reproductive technologies and genetic engineering, to the proliferation of trans-national human trafficking, to increased reliance on prosthetics and mechanical bodies. How can literature help us to make sense of new social and scientific developments that have, quite literally, changed the shape of the human body? How might poetry and fiction, from both the past and the present, enable us to cope more gracefully with new body technologies and to find healthier relationships to our own 21st century bodies as well as those of others? This seminar will focus on poems, short stories, and imaginative essays that discuss the human body; authors may include William Shakespeare, Andrew Marvell, Walt Whitman, Andre Dubus, Nancy Mairs, Lucille Clifton, Sylvia Plath, Mark Strand, Mark Doty, and Rita Dove.