AP/SOSC 2152 3.00
Sleep, Health And Medical Science
Sleep matters to our health, to our social interactions, and to our medical and biological knowledges. This course treats sleep as a Res publica – a "public affair" – by introducing students to the historical and sociopolitical "republics of sleep" and showing how these contemporary republics are built upon a complex set of interactions between biomedicine and sociopolitical concepts of health. Sleep seems private, but it is in fact very much a public affair. Sleep has been closely integrated into human cultures, societies, religions, technologies, architectures, and even politics. Before the early twentieth century, the significance of sleep to health was largely relegated to the status of a mysterious necessity: crucial, but fundamentally unknowable. In contrast, contemporary biomedicine claims to know an awful lot about sleep; and sleep is now an important public health concern. This course examines the different ways in which sleep medicine (or “sleep science”) and social structures have together produced “republics of sleep.” Each module of the course will first introduce students to a particular theoretical framework, followed by a case study taken directly from past or contemporary sleep science. Topics may include: historical epistemology and new pathologies (sleep apnea); co-production and cognitive performance (sleep behaviors); enculturation of sleep and media (film, novels, paintings, music, video games); medicalization and insomnia; and commodification, material culture, and sleep technologies (mattresses, building design, phone apps, earplugs). Written and auto-ethnographic assignments will help demonstrate how society and biomedicine structure health, thereby making us all citizens of one or another republics of sleep.