Course Offerings


Fat!: The science, culture, and politics of weight

Scientists, journalists, and government officials have been telling us that we face an "obesity epidemic" and must fight a "war on obesity," but others have questioned the empirical and ideological underpinnings of these claims. This colloquium takes the perspective of the growing field of fat studies—an approach that asks us to suspend the dominant culture's often reflexive and moralistic negative judgments about fat. How do we know obesity is a problem? Whose problem is obesity? Does your neighborhood make you fat? Does eating (too much) make you fat? Does farm policy make you fat? Will fresh, local, organic food make you thin? What's capitalism got to do with it? We will explore scientific research that looks beyond the simple "calories-in-calories-out" model of weight regulation, and we will scrutinize the presumed links between weight and health. We will critique popular cultural representations of fat people, and will attend to problems of size discrimination as well as to movements for fat acceptance and health at any size. We will consider the intersection of gender, class, and race in the socioeconomics of weight and weightism; the role of the food industry and the diet industry; and the impacts of capitalism, geography, and government policy.

Frann Michel

Course taught by

Frann Michel