Sharon E. Crowley
B CUSP 107
Through collaborative and interdisciplinary learning, students develop a knowledge base, skills, habits of inquiry, and imaginative vision. Focuses on individuals, society. Offered: A.
This DC-I class has two tightly linked objectives: 1. To introduce students to college-level academic work, and the nuts and bolts of doing that work. 2. To orient students to the interdisciplinary curriculum and learning environment here at UWB, which includes getting started on the CUSP Portfolio.
To accomplish both of these goals, this course takes the physical human body as its specific object of study. U.S. culture is saturated with media that subjects physical bodies to heavy scrutiny: images in advertisements and fashion/health magazines, the news, TV shows, movies, etc. We see this same scrutiny in other areas such as science and medicine, literature, and the law. At every turn, we are urged to be fitter, healthier, prettier, safer, and on guard for those who do not conform to these narrowly defined norms. This course will challenge students to think critically about how these norms have been shaped by history, social narratives, and politics. As the quarter progresses, we’ll cover two separate but overlapping units, each focused on a main topic or theme. The first unit is called “Smart Bodies,” where we’ll read a “case study” in interdisciplinary scholarship: Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man. This book critically examines 18th, 19th, and early 20th-Century scientific attempts to link human intelligence with social “identity” categories. One of Gould’s main achievements in this book is to show how scientific investigation and knowledge are deeply shaped by unexamined cultural assumptions. He also explores the social consequences that result from leaving such assumptions unexamined. Alongside this book, we’ll also look at some legal, political, and cultural texts from the same time period. Reading and discussing these texts will help us to assemble a set of key concepts and questions concerning how our physical bodies are shaped by interwoven constructions of race, gender, sexuality, and class. In the second unit, “Beautiful Bodies,” we’ll turn our attention to our own time, and the so-called “obesity epidemic.” We’ll begin to adapt the concepts and questions developed in the first unit toward understanding how we think about personal and public “health” and “beauty.” This work will be supported with readings in cultural criticism, literature, and film.
Student learning goals
Participation, Active and Strategic Learning: how to make meaningful contributions to class discussions, ask good questions, and do well on papers and exams while putting your own "stamp" on them.
Critical Reading: how to engage actively with course materials, to develop deeper understanding and nuanced response.
Writing, Reflection, Revision: use writing as a process for learning and reflection. Share written work with others to help sharpen and develop ideas.
General method of instruction
Lecture, small and large group discussion. In-class writing and learning activities.
Class assignments and grading
Reading and reflection journal: informal, exploratory, and some creative writing to engage with course materials and explore ideas. Final Paper (with drafts): more formal writing, to express "final thoughts" about course material. Midterm and Final Exams: each will cover 1 unit's worth of material, to test comprehension. Participation: active engagement with course materials and classroom community.
Participation: 15% Journal: 20% Midterm: 20% Final: 20% Paper: 25%