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ERIC Number: EJ769130
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Dec
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 27
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
Weighty Speech: Addressing Body Size in the Classroom
Tirosh, Yofi
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v28 n3-4 p267-279 Dec 2006
The politics of body size has been the topic of intriguing feminist work. Although in the author's view this issue is still undertheorized, the author has long sought for a way to bring what "does" exist in the literature into her academic activities. The opportunity arose when, as a graduate student at the University of Michigan in 2001, she taught an undergraduate mini-course (seven weeks for two weekly hours) in the women's studies program, which she named "Weight as a Cultural Question." Weight norms and body-shaping practices were the focus of the class. The author's aim was to give students tools with which to question Western societies' ways of seeing (and evaluating) body size. In exploring the privileged status of slim and fit bodies, the author sought to move away from the "purely aesthetic" or the "merely health-related" explanatory frameworks, toward explanations that included the role of ideology and of power relations in stratified societies. This essay discusses two pedagogical challenges the author faced while teaching this class. Both questions deal with the extent to which it is productive to talk about one's own body in a class setting. One question concerns her search for ways to achieve a safe and enabling classroom environment--a space in which she and her students could comfortably discuss such a sensitive issue as body size. The second question involves her own body as the body of the instructor of this class. These two questions--that of not talking about the body in class and that of the expressive force of her own body--intersect in a current dilemma she has as an assistant professor, concerning whether to provide an account to her students about the reasons for her noticeable weight changes.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan