Burden of Representation

What does it mean to be a person? In this course, we will approach this question by considering how individuals are represented in film, literature, photography, art, the social sciences, and medicine. In particular, the course explores the representation of social otherness: how are particular kinds of bodies marked as different and what are the consequences of such acts of categorization? We will be looking at the roots of social stigma in ancient practices of branding slaves and criminals and at the development of the idea of the normal or average man in the modern period. Our work will touch on related scholarship in the fields of disability, critical race, and gender and sexuality studies; however, the focus will be on particular representations of otherness. Writings by Jacob Riis, W. E. B. Du Bois, Djuna Barnes, Carson McCullers, Frantz Fanon, Erving Goffman, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and others.  Films by: D. W. Griffith, Douglas Sirk, Frederick Wiseman, and Forugh Farrokhzad. In a final unit we read several recent graphic novels.

TR 1:30-3


  • ENGL/CINE-016

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The Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania

The Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women

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