Cressida Heyes Phd

13.2.2014: Student guest blogposts

I am currently teaching an undergraduate seminar called “The Politics of the Body,” which focuses on the political potential of phenomenological approaches to embodiment. We’ve read a bit of Merleau-Pontian phenomenology, a bit of Foucault to contrast, and discussed the (not at all phenomenological) idea that our bodies are our property. Now we are moving in to talking about how contemporary writers have used the phenomenological tradition to make political arguments. The course is a bit quirky, but it’s provoking some amazing discussions about lived experience.

Typically when I teach seminars I assign a major end-of-term writing project: a big position paper. Sometimes I ask to read and comment on a draft of the paper, and then require that students revise it in light of my comments. That’s been a pretty good exercise in many ways, but it a) end-loads the course, so students have just started to work critically with the material in writing when we say goodbye, and b) it doesn’t produce the kind of essay that speaks to readers who aren’t already immersed in the texts. So this term I thought I would try and foster writing assignments that are shorter, punctuated through the term, and that try to take sometimes abstract philosophical ideas and connect them to topical issues or themes that might be of interest to a broader audience. The students are writing 1000 word blogposts to this brief.

For the next two months a few examples will appear on the blog (with permission of their authors). I’m curious to see how this works out…