The Body in History / The Body in Space
Graduate Student Symposium
March 26, 2011
Barker Center for the Humanities, Harvard University
The history of the body has been a locus of prolific research in the past several decades, engaging scholars from disciplines as diverse as history of medicine, cultural history, literature, sociology, and anthropology. The body's experience of health and sickness, histories of the senses, changing standards of civility, the body as political instrument – these and other approaches have recovered the centrality of the human subject in studies of the past and present. Yet current scholarship on the body often relegates issues of space to the background, treating it as a neutral setting against which bodies interact. Conversely, treatments of the body and its history are scant in disciplines focused on space and the built environment. In fields like architectural history, geography, and urban studies, the presence of the body is taken for granted and its history rarely emerges as a critical contribution to the history of space.
This conference aims to question such a facile body-space relationship by positing that the history of the body must also be a history of the body in space, and that the history of spatial practices must involve a history of the body. By bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines, we hope to interrogate the material specificity of architecture and the body through a range of questions linking the two:
-What role does the built environment play in our understandings of the body?
-How have past regulatory practices of the body influenced the design of spaces?
-How can we reclaim human agency while acknowledging the limits imposed on the body by spatial constructs?
The Body in History / The Body in Space Graduate Student Symposium is occurring in conjunction with Cambridge Talks V, an annual conference dedicated to the exploration of interdisciplinary topics that engage issues of space. We welcome paper proposals from graduate students in various fields and disciplines. Proposals should include an abstract (500 words) and a brief CV. Materials should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday November 22, 2010. Authors will be notified of acceptance by December 15.