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Publication# The Dimension of the Body in Higher Education: Matrix of Meanings in Students’ Diaries

Abstract

In this paper, we attempt to show some consequences of bringing the body back into higher education, through the use of performing arts in the curricular context of scientific programs. We start by arguing that dominant traditions in higher education reproduced the mind-body dualism that shaped the social matrix of meanings on knowledge transmission. We highlight the limits of the modern disembodied and decontextualized reason and suggest that, considering the students’ and teachers’ bodies as non-relevant aspects, or even obstacles, leads to the invisibilization of fundamental aspects involved in teaching and learning processes. We thus conducted a study, from a socio-cultural perspective, in which we analyse the emerging matrix of meanings given to the body and bodily engagement by students, through a systematic qualitative analysis of 47 personal diaries. We structured the results and the discussion around five interpretative axes: (1) the production of diaries enables historicization, while the richness of bodily experience expands the boundaries of diaries into non-textual modalities; (2) curricular context modulates the emergent meanings of the body; (3) physical and symbolic spaces guide the matrix of bodily meanings; (4) the bodily dimension of the courses facilitates the emergence of an emotional dimension to get in touch with others and to register one's own emotional experiences; and (5) the body functions as a condition for biographical continuity. These axes are discussed under the light of the general process of consciousness-raising and resignification of the situated body in the educational practice.

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