In this theory-oriented class we will explore the “biocultural turn” in Literary and Cultural Studies which emphasizes the intersections of biology and culture. This perspective includes a closer exploration of the relation between art and science, or the humanities and natural sciences. Both fields have long tended to stand in opposition regarding their explanatory attempts. However, scholars have increasingly shown that both biology and culture can often not be fully understood in isolation (“Biocultures Manifesto”).
Turning to biocultural processes, embodiment, illness, disability, ageing, and biotechnology we will examine how biologically defined processes are material and cultural at the same time. Furthermore, we will focus on a critique of biologization and biomedicalization. These perspectives are crucial for the understanding of the core categories of Cultural Studies, namely the construction of identity narratives, as well as national and cultural belonging. Although of global interest, our main focus will be on the United States.