Studying online

There are now 3 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Units available in Online Restricted mode have been adapted for online study only for those students who require the unit to complete their studies and who are unable to attend campus owing to exceptional circumstances beyond their control. To be enrolled in a unit in Online Restricted mode, students should contact their Student Advising Office through askUWA

Click on an offering mode for more details.

ENGL1902 Reading Bodies

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 option in the English and Literary Studies; Humanities in Health and Medicine; Gender Studies major sequences
  • Level 1 elective
The ways in which we understand 'the body' has profound implications for how we live and work as gendered, sexed, and raced subjects. This cultural studies unit investigates the way bodies can be 'read' over time and place, through medical, scientific, legal, literary and philosophical discourses, paying particular attention to the sexed body. It is interested in the way bodies are constructed through narrative tropes and conventions from the past, the present, and the future. Students think about the ways in which power relations are inscribed on bodies through bodily regimes to do with hair, muscularity, fertility and virility; how the value and vulnerability of bodily experiences like adolescence or breastfeeding or ageing are socially constructed, and how practices like circumcision, IVF or gender transitioning are complicated by the regulation of gender, sexuality, race and class. Ideas of power and performance as culturally and historically specific are useful in accounting for unpredictable bodies (like intersex babies), and the future of bodies in virtual reality and cyborg culture are investigated. The unit applies critical thinking from cultural studies and social theory to literary texts, contemporary print, art, and digital media, and everyday practices, to trace ideas of nature and culture, personal and political, individual and social as they converge around the body and the way we live. It makes for an absorbing broadening unit for anyone with a body.
Students are able to (1) articulate an historical and political cultural context for current understandings of the body and its relation to gender identity in contemporary Western culture; (2) demonstrate an understanding of the ways race, class, gender and sexuality are inscribed on the body as a set of power relations; (3) analyse literary texts, visual media, events or everyday practices for their representation of particular and imagined bodies; (4) be familiar with a range of theories about subjectivity and social power and the ways they can be applied to the representation and experience of particular bodies; (5) confidently employ a critical vocabulary of pivotal terms and concepts; and (6) undertake independent research, express research findings and ideas coherently and convincingly in appropriate written and oral forms.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) written assessment; and (3) an examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

For units commencing in May 2022 or later the availability of the supplementary assessment is subject to confirmation.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Chantal Bourgault du Coudray
Unit rules
Contact hours
2–3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.