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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Body Studies (DESI08151)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will introduce undergraduate students to a range of contemporary critical theories and debates on the body and identity. We will explore the body as a site on which social constructions of difference are inscribed, as well as how these constructions can be challenged and resisted. Bodies are regulated and self-regulated, marginalised, oppressed, erased, owned, visualised, textualised and designed. The body is not isolated; rather, it extends and connects with other bodies, practices, human and non-human entities, and technologies. The course will also examine the ways in which digital developments are reshaping our understanding of our bodies and question what it means to be human.
Course description This course places the human body at the centre of our everyday experience and approaches it from a wide range of theoretical and interdisciplinary perspectives, including feminist studies, gender studies, post-modernism, post-humanism, medical humanities, disability studies, visual culture, cultural theory and philosophy. The course is concerned with embodiment, (mis)representation, performance, (in)visibility and lived experience, the themes that cross over in an emerging interdisciplinary field of body studies. It invites students to rethink what it means to be and to have a body, and to reimagine the body's limits, boundaries and capacities from social, philosophical and design perspectives. The course will explore how the body informs design and making processes (through somatic senses, perceptual possibilities, and cultural and social understandings) and how designers and users engage with designs. We will also examine how media reshape our knowledge and interpretation of the body and how we perceive power, ideology and social and cultural processes. All the course sessions will focus on interdisciplinary perspectives and questions around the relationship between the body, identity, media and technology.

Specific elements of the course content may vary from year to year, but topics covered by the course will normally include some or all of the following:
Sentient body - a lived, subjective experience of the body; embodiment
Visualised body - (mis)representations of gender, race, class, disability
Mediated body - performative bodies; bodies transformed by media
Clothed and adorned body - wearables; painted bodies; cultural perceptions of beauty
Augmented body - prosthetic and digitalised bodies
Connected body - the body that extends and connects to other bodies, practices, human and non-human entities and technologies
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  90
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Other Study Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 181 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other study hours - external speaker
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) There are two formative assessments:
Mini symposium presented mid-way through the course. Working in small groups (4-5 students) the students should prepare a short presentation - about 10-12 minutes long - on one of the themes covered in the lecture and seminar series. This can take the form of an online discussion, presentation using slides and a voice-over, interviews with one another or people outside the group, a podcast or performance. Suggestions for presentation topics will be offered, but groups will also be supported in developing their own. In addition, students will be required to submit a selection of blog posts, a total of 500-750 words that include images and other non-textual modes of communication.

Summative assessment:
A portfolio of writings and media submitted at the end of the semester that reflect the themes and issues discussed in the lectures and seminars. Students are expected to return to their selection of blog posts and expand them to a total of 2,500 words based on the formative feedback and further reading. The portfolio should include documentation and reflection on the mid-semester group presentation, as well as other non-textual modes of communication, such as audio, video, film or recorded performance, if relevant (100% mark).
Feedback · Written feedback will be given on the written component of the formative submissions.
· Small group presentations (groups of 4-5 students) of 10-12 minutes per group will take place mid-way through the semester. Verbal feedback will be given after the presentations.
· Each student will submit a portfolio of writing (2,500-words) and media towards the end of the semester; feedback will be given in writing via Learn/TurnItIn within the standard 15-day window.

No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of contemporary theories and debates on the body, identity, media and digital technologies.
  2. Critically engage with theoretical debates and questions relating to issues of gender, race, class and disability, and the role of technology in our daily lives.
  3. Develop critical independence, flexibility and reflexivity across group and individual work.
Reading List
Benjamin, R., (2019). Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. Cambridge, UK, Medford, USA: Polity Press.
Broadhurst, S., and Price, S., (2017). Digital Bodies: Creativity and Technology in the Arts and Humanities. Pelgrave Macmillan UK.
Butler, J., (1999). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London, NewYork: Routledge.
Davis, L.J., (2017). The Disability Studies Reader, New York, NY: Routledge.
Hayles, N. K., (1999). How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. University of Chicago Press.
Shusterman, R., (2012). Thinking Through the Body, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of this course, the students will be able to:
Demonstrate a critical understanding of key contemporary theories and debates about the body, identity and the relationship between bodies and digital technologies.
Apply research strategies to have an informed understanding of key contemporary theories related to the body and identity.
Exercise autonomy and initiative in activities.
Communicate and articulate arguments with the use of mixed-media, including verbal and written approaches and a selection of visual material, media, artefacts or performance.
Course organiserDr Agnese Sile
Tel: (0131 6)51 5800
Course secretaryMr Paddy Marr
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