Case Western Reserve University

College of Arts and Sciences

SAGES- Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship

USSO 290W- Understanding Body Image through Self-Perception

Spring 2020

Instructor:              Hannah Barna Blake


Office Hours:         Before class by appointment      

Units:            3 units

Prerequisite:    FSEM   

Hours:             TuTh 2:30 – 3:45 PM

Location:        Thwing 301

Writing Instructor: Dr. Cara Byrne


Writing Resource Center hours: see

Course Description

This course examines the historical, psychological, and cultural approaches to the self-perception of one’s own body. We will explore how body standards have changed throughout history and across cultures, and how this is reflected in portraiture. Additionally, we will investigate psychological studies on body image, acknowledging the challenges in an evidence-based approach and considering medical diagnoses when distortion in self-perception occurs. Finally, we will analyze current body standards perpetuated by the media in regards to body size, shape, and gender. Through reading and discussion, students will gain a deeper understanding of healthy body image and strategies for applying it to their own lives.

Student Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this seminar, the student should be able to…

-Participate in a variety of academic conversations by contributing insightful, relevant ideas

-Consider differences in values and assumptions to think critically, deliberate ethically, and respond articulately to questions/problems

-Research and apply scholarly concepts and information

-Write clear, insightful, persuasive, research-based, and appropriately documented argumentative essays

-Effectively communicate information through oral and/or new media presentations

Course Requirements


Body Image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children. Sarah Grogan. 3rd edition. Published in 2017 by Routledge. ISBN: 978-1-138-92888-6

Additional readings will be posted to Canvas. These include excerpts from:

The Oxford Handbook of The Psychology of Appearance. Eds. Nichola Rumsey and Diana Harcourt. Published in 2012 by Oxford UP.

Many Mirrors: Body Image and Social Relations. Ed. Nicole Sault. Published in 1994 by Rutgers UP.

Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture. Amy Erdman Farrell. Published in 2011 by New York UP.

Recommended readings

The Craft of Research. Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory C., and Williams, Joseph M. 2nd edition. Published in 2003 by University of Chicago Press. Available online:

Attendance and Participation: (250 points) 10 points per class. As this is a seminar course, all students are expected to attend class regularly, keep up with reading, and participate in class discussions. Students enrolled in this class are to demonstrate a commitment to the class, to self, and the course work. TWO unexcused absences will be permitted throughout the semester.  Each additional absence will result in a 1.5% reduction of your final grade.

Tardiness: Timeliness is important. A student will be marked tardy if they arrive after class has begun or leave early. Points will be deducted in accordance with the amount of class missed.

Excused absences: All anticipated absences should be communicated to the instructor in writing at least one-week prior. Excused absences may be given in cases of injury or illness, emergencies in the student’s immediate family, professional development, or when the student is representing the University. Relevant documentation i.e. a note from doctor, parent, University etc. is expected and, in the case of unanticipatedabsences, due within one week post-absence.

Participation: Defined as meaningful contribution to in-class discussion. Also includes in-class writing assignments and demonstration of reading comprehension.

Formal writing assignments: All formal writing assignments are expected to demonstrate a mastery of language arts skills. The sustained and organized development of an idea or point should be supported by observable evidence and/or original thought and reflected by the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of the material. Each paper should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Consistent use of correct grammar, syntax, and spelling of Standard English is expected. All written assignments are to be submitted via Canvasbefore the start of class on the due date. Late assignments will be reduced in grade by 10% for each day they are late. Detailed assignment prompts and rubrics will be posted by the instructor on Canvas.

Assignment Formatting: All written assignments should be in MLA format, with a name block and page numbers, 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spaced, and spell-checked. See here for more information on MLA formatting:

Historical Analysis paper: (200 points) Students will write a 3 page minimum paper discussing a historical perspective on body image and how it is reflected in a work of art on display at CMA. This paper will use a minimum of 1 in-class reading and 1 outside source. A short presentation of paper will be given next to the chosen artwork at the Cleveland Museum of Art. In-class presentations will be given at CMA on Tu 2/11 and Th 2/13. Paper will be due Th 2/13.

Psychological Analysis paper: (200 points) Students will write a 5 page minimum paper analyzing a body image questionnaire used in scientific studies. A minimum of 1 in-class readings and 2 outside sources (including a credible journal article) will be required. Paper will be due Tu 3/17.

Cultural Research paper: (350 points) Students will culminate the semester by writing a research paper on a chosen population and their specific body image challenges. Additionally, historical body image perspectives, a psychological study involving this population, and a media advertisement are to be included in the discussion. A minimum of 1 in-class readings, 1 credible journal article, and a total of 5 sources will be required. In-class presentations will be given the last 2 weeks of class, Tu 4/14, Th 4/16, and Tu 4/21 Final papers will be due Thursday, 4/30.

Instructor meeting: Students are required to meet with the course or writing instructor at least once during the semester. These meetings should occur between the draft and final versions of any of the 3 papers.

Late Work Policy: If a student is absent on the day the assignment is handed out, it is their responsibility to retrieve the assignment before the day it is due.  To facilitate this, all assignments will be posted along with their due dates at http:// Canvas  The instructor is willing to answer questions regarding assignments, but any assistance must be sought no later than 24 hours before the assignment is to be turned in. Assignment grade will be reduced by 10% for every day that an item is late.

Canvas and Email: Class communications and announcements will be made via Canvas and sent to your University email account. Class assignments, documents and grades will be available on Canvas. http:// Canvas Assignment submission will be via Canvas, as demonstrated in class.  You are responsible for checking your University email on a regular basis.  Requests for the use of non-university emails will not be honored.


RequirementPointsPercentGrade Scale
Attendance / ParticipationHistorical analysis paper and presentationPsychological analysis paperCultural research paperTotal2502002003501,00025%20%20%35%100%90-100%80-89%70-79%60-69%< 59%AB CDF


A = Excellent work in all categories including participation, written assessments, and presentations and with excellent attendance (meeting the attendance requirement).

B = Good work in the majority of categories but may need to improve in participation, written assessments, and/or presentations. May not have met the attendance requirements.

C = Fair work in general with a need to improve in several categories including participation, written assessments, and presentations and/or may not have met the attendance requirements. (Written assignments may not have met standards or may have had points deducted for late submissions.)

D = Attendance was very poor thus affecting participation and/or work in the written assessments did not meet the standards or was late.

F = Failure to meet the course requirements.

Academic Integrity Policy: CWRU’s academic integrity policy defines plagiarism as the presentation, without proper attribution, of another’s words or ideas from printed or electronic sources. It is also plagiarism to submit, without the instructor’s consent, an assignment in one class previously submitted in another. If you plagiarize, I am required to report the violation to the University. Sanctions I can impose range from failing the work in question to assigning a failing grade for the course. Additional sanctions may be imposed by the University. For more information, see

Support for Students with Disabilities: In accordance with federal law, if you have a documented disability, you may be eligible to request accommodations through ESS Disability Resources. In order to be considered for accommodations you must provide a memo (via email) from Disability Resources. Please contact their office to register at 216.368.5230 or get more information on how to begin the process ( Please keep in mind that accommodations are not retroactive.

Writing and Academic Resources Available to CWRU Students:

Writing Resource Center – staffed by full-time writing SAGES/English faculty, advanced graduate students, and skilled undergraduate Peer Writing Fellows, the WRC offers individual support for writers at all stages of the writing process in addition to in-house workshops and other programming. For more information, visit the WRC website at

Educational Services for Students (ESS) – staffed by trained professionals and talented undergraduates, ESS supports student learning through academic coaching, individual consultations, programs, courses, and printable resources. For more information, visit the ESS website at

SAGES Writing Portfolio: After the completion of your second SAGES University Seminar, you will compile a Writing Portfolio and submit it to the SAGES office. The Writing Portfolio documents your development as a writer over your first three SAGES seminars and provides the University with feedback that will be used to enhance the SAGES program. The Writing Portfolio includes an essay from each of the three seminars you have taken, as well as a Reflective Essay. For that reason, you should save all of the essays you write for this class. For more information about the portfolio and how to submit it, please consult the SAGES website at

Semester Calendar

Semester Calendar- Spring 2020
WeekDateClass TopicDue
Week #1IntroductionTu 1/14Th 1/16SyllabusIntro & idealsGrogan p 1-6 &11-18
Week #2HistoricalTu 1/21Th 1/23HistoryCMA- Identify ArtworkGrogan p 18-30
Week #3HistoricalTu 1/28Th 1/30WI Workshop- Art analysisArt documentaryThesis and works cited
Week #4HistoricalTu 2/4Th 2/6Nudity and the savage bodyWI workshop-evidencePDFsDraft
Week #5HistoricalTu 2/11Th 2/13CMA PresentationsCMA PresentationsHistorical paper
Week #6PsychologicalTu 2/18Th 2/20Psych introMedia influenceGrogan p 38-53 & 75-83Grogan p 116-127
Week #7PsychologicalTu 2/25Th 2/27KSL dayThesis worksheetIdentify assessment toolWorks citedThesis wkst due F 2/28
Week #8PsychologicalTu 3/3Th 3/5WI workshop- peer reviewTreatment affects appearanceDraftPDF
Tu 3/10Th 3/12Spring Break-No classSpring Break-No class
Week #9Psychological/ CulturalTu 3/17Th 3/19Silent debateFactors affecting BIPsychological paperGrogan p 135-149 & 154-172
Week #10CulturalTu 3/24Th 3/26Cultural documentaryCross-cultural differencesNo class meetingIdentify populationGrogan 150-154 & PDFCanvas assignment-due by 11:59pm
Week #11CulturalTu 3/31Th 4/1Barbie and adsOutline and presentation exPDFThesis and works cited
Week #12CulturalTu 4/7Th 4/9Fad dietsBehavior affecting BIOutlineGrogan p53-65 & 83-95
Week #13PresentationsTu 4/14Th 4/16PresentationsPresentationsDraft #1
Week #14Presentations/ Wrap-upTu 4/21Th 4/23PresentationsPositive BIGrogan p 184-197Draft #2
Finals weekTh 4/30Final research paper due