Cycle #1
The Body Politic

Faigley, in his introduction to the readings on body language, tells us that body image is socially constructed; that is, society dictates how we read and interpret the body. Western notions of beauty, for example, are largely determined by cultural standards espoused by pop culture and the media. Interestingly, however, many of the readings we will discuss over the next two weeks suggest the body is often mobilized to construct its own meaning. Young adults involved in the Punk movement of the 1970s, for example, donned safety pins through their lips and noses as a means of revolting against what they perceived to be an oppressive system of cultural values, a system which privileged and rewarded conformity. Today, body piercings are commonplace and rarely carry the political connotations of the past. Why? In this cycle, we will examine how body images are constructed by both society and the individual. More importantly, we will explore the relation between the body and hegemony, the prevalent, but invisible, ideology that maintains status quo in our society.

Rafferty, “Kate Winslet, Please Save Us!” p. 525
hooks, “Straightening Our Hair” p. 531
King, “The Other Body: Disability and Identity Politics” p. 544

Essay Assignment:
For this assignment, you should write an essay in which you make and support a claim that is related to the topic of body image. You might consider how a cultural practice regarding the body serves to oppress a group, as hooks does in her essay. Similarly, you might consider how a particular group or community of people construct “acceptable” images of the body. For example, you might consider how the media portrays disability or beauty, or you might consider how advertisements construct bodies to be consumed. As you search for a focus for this essay, peruse the other readings in this section of the text for ideas.

Remember that your claim must be contestable and it should not be based solely on value judgments. The readings above provide excellent models of arguments that make good claims and support them.

• Minimum of 1000 words
• Minimum of three scholarly sources, one of which must be non-electronic
• MLA format (APA and Chicago are also acceptable formats)




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