Normalizing Bodies

This course examines the distinction between “normal” and “abnormal” bodies and investigates the complex ways in which abnormal bodies become “problems” for medicine. Looking at historical examples, e.g. pathologization of slaves’ desires to flee captivity, nineteenth century diagnosis and treatment of “hysteria,” medical treatment of height (tallness in girls, short stature in boys) and atypical sex anatomies (intersex bodies), we will ask what normality means, and explore the effects of meanings we may too often take for granted. Students visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History to speak with the curator and specialist of disability and hear guest lectures on normalizing surgical interventions for children.