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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Decription

Extraordinary Bodies

Instructor(s): Susannah Mintz, English

Description: What makes a body “extraordinary,” and why do bodies that don’t fit established categories seem to provoke fear, confusion, pity, or wonder? This course focuses on the literary representation of bodies in some way disabled, disfigured, ill, or impaired. Our goal will be to investigate what so-called “freaks” or “monsters” tell us about prevalent social attitudes toward the body and identity, health and mortality, gender and sexuality. We’ll investigate what symbolic meanings get attached to anomalous bodies, and how have these shifted over time, and consider what happens when disabled authors write their own stories. Reading drama, poetry, fiction, autobiography, and more, we’ll explore the boundaries of the “normal,” and consider the ways in which we are all only temporarily “able-bodied.

Course Offered