Sokal outclassed


Behold: the Fat Studies Reader. From the chapter “Sitting Pretty: Fat Bodies, Classroom Desks and Academic Excess” by Ashley Etrick and Derek Attig: 

The relationship between classroom desks and disciplinary practices that seek to form and control ‘size and general configuration’ is evident: the hard materials and unforgiving shapes of these desks punish student bodies that exceed their boundaries with pain and social shame. Some fat students are unable or unwilling to subject their bodies to the disciplinary powers of desks and must sit elsewhere. In these cases, desks can threaten fat students’ very identities as students; if their bodies cannot fit into structures that signify their intellectually receptive status, then they are, symbolically at least, unable to learn.  Homogenous thinness is rewarded with comfort and various other privileges accorded to those granted identification as both students and normal. In these ways, classroom desks control body size and thereby produce the ideal thin student.

Personally I feel the material overlaps with “Access to the Sky: Airplane Seats and Fat Bodies as Contested Spaces” by Joyce L. Huff.

I’m yet to read “Jiggle In My Walk: The Iconic Power of the ‘Big Butt’ in American Pop Culture” by Wendy A. Burns-Ardolino.



4 Responses to “Sokal outclassed”

  1. KP Says:

    Where do you find this stuff? I must say I am also intrigued by the chapter ‘Not Jane Fonda: aerobics for fat women only’. Happy reading

  2. Nick Says:

    I found it at Melbourne University bookstore, sadly.

    “Dream large”?

  3. meg Says:

    I love how you don’t engage with the substance of the piece but instead just make fun of the very idea of studying fat bodies.

  4. Nick Says:

    Hi, Meg. If those people are “studying fat bodies”, they’re doing a pretty poor job of it.

    I’d have no problem with the Fat Studies Reader if it did what it claimed to do. But I give short shrift to careerist charlatans trying to carve out an academic niche for themselves by applying cookie-cutter sub-Foucauldian “analysis” to yet another area. The last thing anyone – let alone fat people – need is another branch of Cultural Studies.

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