Need some topics or ideas? Check out the following, but feel free to dream up others! 

  • How are bodies represented in a particular work of literature, a movie, or a TV show?
  • Is a certain body, or something about it, a catalyst for the narrative? Does the narrative refigure the ways we define the human body? For example, how is prosthesis or technology tied to the body, and how does this change the ways we relate to our environment?
  • What about when the body is “disabled”? What does it mean to have a “normal” body? How does a specific work depict, interrogate, or redefine ability and disability? 
  • What makes a face on your screen more “human” than any other arrangement of pixels? Is a human body a necessary prerequisite for claiming to be human, and if so, what happens when the body has failed or been outgrown? How does a particular work of literature or cinema investigate these questions? 
  • Science fiction and fantasy genre works often entail an overcoming of the limitations of our current embodiment; why? How are bodies represented in a particular work of science fiction or fantasy? 
  • What does a specific text state or imply about what we should do with a body after death? About the existence or non-existence of disembodied spirits, ghosts, or souls?
  • Are there descriptions, histories, or interpretation of traditional representations of God appearing as if with a human body? What do depictions of Christ, the saints, other sacred subjects or other religious figures in art suggest by their bodily representation?
  • What does a particular video game, computer game, or VR tech say or imply about the body of the gamer? 
  • What is Consciousness? If you could upload your mind into an android, would you still be human? Would you still be you? If you could project a hologram into a public space or a virtual environment, is that a less human interaction than bodies interacting? How do particular works of literature or film investigate these questions? 
  • How have representations of the body in art changed over time, and what does such evolution teach us about being human, embodiment, or body image? 
  • How does the text depict the race, ethnicity, gender, and other elements of its characters’ specific bodies? How does the phrase “Black bodies” work in a particular literary or cultural text to humanize or dehumanize African Americans?  
  • How does a particular work use bodily imagery or analogy to develop its own symbols?

[thanks to the OWL at Purdue for some of these ideas]

Image by sweetreilly0 from Pixabay