Teach ABody++


ANT 210-001, Tue 3-6p, Young 224

Prof. Joseph Dumit, dumit@ucdavis.edu


Class is designed around learning to answer and re-answer the following questions:

  • What can a body do?
  • Where does a body end?
  • How does a body feel?
  • Does a body have a machine?
  • How can a body be extended?
  • How does a body end?
  • More than one, less than two body?
  • When does a body remember?
  • How can a body be rendered?

These questions will be explored through individual and group projects. I will have syllabic choices, but everyone may read different things (texts, media, life), with the aim of working out knots of concepts and methods. Participants are required to read and post notes on reading: teaching others what has been read, and posing and expanding the questions, building up arguments not for the texts but for the concepts and methods.

These may be Spinoza (what can a body do? and Deleuze’s discussion of the indefinite article, a body); enhancement, drugs, cyborgs, supplements, exercises, evolution; phenomenology, embodiment, psychoanalysis, cybernetics; biology, death, violence, torture, abandonment, social movement; disability, training, sports, dancing, performance; development, human nature, sexuality, body parts, cells, muscles; assemblages, symbiosis, biopolitics, biocapital; anthropology, cultural studies, performance studies, design, medicine, philosophy, history, sociology, science, engineering, computer science, science & technology studies.

Everyone can read different things, but we have to address the same issues on wiki or other ground. Some key questions overall, and then specific ones within that. You will have to read and post their notes on reading: teaching others what has been read, and posing and expanding the questions, building up arguments, not for the texts, but for the concepts being worked on.

Syllabus Design – Also look through sample syllabi, research syllabi and readings according to your own discipline and interests, and then make a syllabus of 8 weeks. (don’t worry, it can change), if you are fascinated by an existing one, you can adapt it. the point is to choose readings that help you along whatever trajectory you think you are on.

Then each week you will apply your syllabus to that week’s question. Second Week’s Question: What can a body do?  How many different ways do the different readings inspire you to answer this? Following weeks we will roll dice to decide which question we are answering.

Body Practices – find a body practice that you don’t already do regularly to start doing regularly

–     like readings, what do you learn from them that you didn’t know, a new body practice, because you then oppose it to your current ones.  at least have two to compare, measure
–     look for the affinities and the creative divergences
–     how do they play with the questions in ways you (could not) have not thought of
“where does a body end?”
–  Why? to open you up, give you more to follow, make you a better
participant & observer

Make a Blog – Posting
– Make a Blog – WordPress.com or Posterous.com
– 1st assignment is talk about your syllabus & announce your practice
– also start talking about at least one Companion piece for What can a body do?

Paper – Paper: 25 pages, topic TBA


»Biomedicine as Culture

Biomedicine as Culture

Co-edited with Regula Burri in 2008. Biomedicine as Culture: Instrumental Practices, Technoscientific Knowledge, and New Modes of Life (Routledge Studies in Science, Technology and Society), best described through contents: Introduction REGULA VALÉRIE BURRI AND JOSEPH DUMIT PART I Social and cultural studies of biomedicine 1 Medicalizing culture(s) or culturalizing medicine(s) STEFAN BECK 2 Metaphors of medicine Continue reading…


»Artificial Participation


An Interview with Warren Sack Appears in Zeroing in on the Year 2000: The Final Edition (Late Editions 8 ) George E. Marcus, Editor (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000). Preface: Recently I was talking with a friend, relating an incident that had happened to me when my word processing program froze, when I realized Continue reading…


»How I Read


Notes on reading modes sent to a grad class: I wanted to respond to the questions raised during our class regarding what kind of a reading I have been doing over these weeks.  I see it as close (as opposed to general), constructive (as opposed to deconstructive), positive (as opposed to negative), generous (as opposed Continue reading…