Gestural Imaginaries

Gestural Imaginaries : Dance and Cultural Theory in the Early Twentieth Century

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Gestural Imaginaries: Dance and Cultural Theory in the Early Twentieth Century offers a new interpretation of European modernist dance by addressing it as guiding medium in a vibrant field of gestural culture that ranged across art and philosophy. Taking further Cornelius Castoriadis's concept of the social imaginary, it explores this imaginary's embodied forms. Close readings of dances, photographs, and literary texts are juxtaposed with discussions of
gestural theory by thinkers including Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud, and Aby Warburg. Choreographic gesture is defined as a force of intermittency that creates a new theoretical status of dance. Author Lucia Ruprecht shows how this also bears on contemporary theory. She shifts emphasis from Giorgio Agamben's
preoccupation with gestural mediality to Jacques Ranciere's multiplicity of proliferating, singular gestures, arguing for their ethical and political relevance. Mobilizing dance history and movement analysis, Ruprecht highlights the critical impact of works by choreographers such as Vaslav Nijinsky, Jo Mihaly, and Alexander and Clotilde Sakharoff. She also offers choreographic readings of Franz Kafka and Alfred Doeblin. Gestural Imaginaries proposes that modernist dance
conducts a gestural revolution which enacts but also exceeds the insights of past and present cultural theory. It makes a case for archive-based, cross-medial, and critically informed dance studies, transnational German studies, and the theoretical potential of performance itself.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 155 x 234 x 22mm | 614g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 26 images
  • 0190659386
  • 9780190659387
  • 1,375,661

Table of contents

Foreword by Mark Franko
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations

Inaugurating Gestures: Le Sacre du printemps
Introduction: Gestural Imaginaries

1. A Second Gestural Revolution and Gesturing Hands in Rainer Maria Rilke, Auguste Rodin, Mary Wigman, and Tilly Losch
2. Gestures of Vibrating (Interruption) in Rudolf von Laban, Mary Wigman, and Walter Benjamin
3. Conducts and Codes of Gesture in Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka
4. Gestural (In)visibility in Bela Balazs and Helmuth Plessner
5. Gestures Between Symptom and Symbol in Aby Warburg and Sigmund Freud
6. Gestures Between the Auratic and the Profane: Niddy Impekoven's and Franz Kafka's Reenactments of Liturgy
7. Gestural Drag: Baroquism and Modernist Minstrelsy in Alexander and Clotilde Sakharoff
8. Floral Pathochoreographies: Mime Studies by Harald Kreutzberg, Alfred Doeblin, and Jo Mihaly


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Review quote

Ruprecht's study of dance and gesture does not just draw on philosophy, principally the writings of Walter Benjamin, it comprises a brilliant study of the medium of dance while simultaneously making a profound contribution to both dance studies and the philosophy of art. This is a work to be celebrated. * Andrew Benjamin, Anniversary Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities, Kingston University * In this erudite and beautifully researched study, Ruprecht constructs a dialog between dance as action and philosophical and cultural theory, treating both choreography and textual theory as having equal weight and equal capacity to elucidate a given socio-political moment. Through her visionary pursuit of gesture, as a rupture in the ongoing rhythm of events, Ruprecht adds significantly to our repertoire of methods for analyzing dance and also places it in
conversation with broader cultural developments in the early twentieth century. * Susan Leigh Foster, Distinguished Professor, UCLA * Exquisitely researched, Ruprecht's study enhances our understanding not only of Nijinsky, Wigman, Kreutzberg, and lesser known choreographers such as Niddy Impekoven and the Sakharoffs, but also the film theorist Bela Balazs and the sociologist Helmuth Plessner, both of whom approached gesture as a magnet for natural expression and its crisis. Ruprecht shows us how the gestural in dance can be seen as simultaneously a symptom of loss and a promise of
renewal, an evacuation of meaning and the advent of critique. * Carrie Noland, author of Agency and Embodiment and Merce Cunningham: After the Arbitrary *
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About Lucia Ruprecht

Lucia Ruprecht is a Fellow of Emmanuel College and an affiliated Lecturer in the Department of German and Dutch, University of Cambridge, UK. She studied German and French literature at Universities in Germany, France, and the UK. She has been an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Institute of Theater Studies, Free University Berlin, and the inaugural Visiting Research Scholar at Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University, Philadelphia.
She works at the intersection of dance, film, literature, and cultural theory from the enlightenment to the contemporary.
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