Call for Papers: “Freedom to move. Dance and Literature (1900-1950)”. Postgraduate Workshop at the Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Graz, 28th–29th of November 2014

NYC Ballet 1938, by André Kertész

At the beginning of the 20th century, dance functions to create a space for cultural and artistic expression which aims to innovate aesthetic and cultural traditions through the metaphor of liberty. Half art, half sport (Grassi 1999), dance influences social and artistic life. It touches a sensitive political area where the body is idealized and becomes a fetish like in Europe’s fascistic regimes. At first, however, every new dance confuses the ruling social and cultural structures. That applies to all types of dance, including the waltz, the Tango Argentino, introduced in France in 1910, traditional American dances like the one-step and the shimmy as well as to modern dance. Metaphorically, dance uses movement as a paradigm of modernity and refers to the continuous changes in social, cultural and aesthetic relations as well as the changes in the subjects of these relations.

Beginning with symbolist aesthetics, works on dance open a research area that addresses questions of time and space as well as perception and reflections on media. Dance can even be seen as key medium for all arts and sciences (Brandstetter 1995), since corporal experiences, forms of emotion and the meaning of rhythmic movements appear through different disciplines as demonstrated in the works of Freud, Dewey, Bergson or Plessner (Angerer 2011; Elsner 2000, Keen 2011). Artistic and athletic movement can be analysed as text, speech act, body rhetoric, and form of movement; as an intertextual system of signs, ritual or culturally-formed practice. In turn, that allows for the exploring cultural and ideological patterns in the processes of signification of dance in society and art (Foster 2013). Research questions concentrate on the relationship between language and body movement, embodied concepts of identity, gender and emotions in dance and questions of perception and medialization of movement and emotion.

The contributions can refer but are not limited to the following questions:

  1. What types of theory and methods are available to investigate movement as well as dance between 1900 and 1950?
  2. How is dance performed in different genres (as motif, as metaphor to non-verbally condense an argument, as counter discourse, as decor, as analogy)?
  3. What functions does dance assume in the text (reflection on art and media, cultural critique, reflection on perception)?
  4. What concepts of body and identity can be deduced from mediated dances?
  5. What social experience of time is expressed through the dance?
  6. Which techniques do the authors use to not only describe movement, but to show it as literary event? How is the text put into movement?
  7. What elements from other arts (figures of movement, colours, rhythm) are relevant for the processes of literary creation and reception?

The Workshop invites submissions from PhD-students and postdocs. If you are interested, please ensure that an abstract (max. 400 words) of your proposal as well as a short bio is sent by the 30th of June 2014 to Prof. Dr. Susanne Knaller or Dr. Rita Rieger. The workshop will be conducted in German and/or English. A publication of the results is planned. Please feel free to contact us for further questions.

Prof. Dr. Susanne Knaller
Dr. Rita Rieger
University of Graz
Center for Cultural Studies
Attemsgasse 25/II
A-8010 Graz

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