Interdisciplinary Analyses of Medicalized Human Bodies and Parts (Panel)

Cultural Studies and Media Studies / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Maria Rovito (Pennsylvania State University)

One-sex/two-sex/sex-spectrum. Anatomized or amputated parts. Contamination of and by bodily fluids. Plastic surgeries. Bionic integration. Human drug trials. In vitro embryology. Genetic engineering. Organ markets. These are models, circumstances, and concepts that describe and represent our understandings of human bodies, and indicate ways to change, repair, and improve human bodies: perhaps attempting to reach human corporeal perfection or immortality, perhaps to avoid extinction. Of course, these modes, circumstances, and ideas are not just medical questions. They are also cultural questions. Researchers examine and balance the multifaceted beneficial advancements of medical sciences with highly problematic, or even devastating, repercussions. The medicalizing of human bodies and body parts exists in various discourses and media, and demands interdisciplinary analyses across time, space, media, and imagination. Further, responses to medicalized representations of human bodies figure largely in many fields including Economics, Policy, and Media Studies -- evident in the ongoing discussions and frantic rants about the Covid vaccines. In a time when mere drops of exhaled breath threaten the lives of millions around the globe, this panel seeks to investigate medicalizing of human bodies and body parts within sciences and humanities, from historical medical theories and practices all the way to contemporary science fiction human/alien hybrids.
This interdisciplinary panel examines discourses of medicalized human bodies and its parts that are presented in various media and for differing purposes. Real and imagined results of, and social reaction to, such discourses across times and spaces are also analyzed.