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The Body, Dance and Cultural Theory

Thomas, Helen (2003) The Body, Dance and Cultural Theory. Palgrave Macmillan 2003. ISBN 0-333-72431-3 [Creative Arts and Design > Dance]
Creators:Thomas, Helen

This monograph builds on earlier work to formulate a systematic approach to the sociology of dance (Thomas 1995, 1997). It makes connections between the burgeoning interest in the body in social and cultural analysis and a variety of dance forms and practices. The ‘body’, in movement and stillness, is the primary mode of representation and expression in Western theatre dance in particular. Social and cultural analysts of the body, however, as Part 1 demonstrates, tended to pay scant attention to this situated aesthetic embodied practice. This was in sharp contrast to other artistic and cultural fields, which social and cultural theorists drew on, to explore the construction and production of representation and difference in relation to the body (Pollock 1988; Wolff 1995; Betterton 1996).

The book integrates the sociology of the body and dance studies by engaging with ideas about the body in contemporary cultural theory in these two fields. Semiotic, feminist, postmodernist and poststructuralist approaches to the body and dance are situated in relation to debates between foundationalist and social constructionist perspectives. Drawing on dance ethnography (Desmond 1997; Browning 1995), it proposes that dance forms and practices are embodied forms of cultural knowledge that can offer a rich set of resources for investigating the complex issues confronting the study of the body in society.

Chapters 3-7 present close readings of a series of dance case studies to examine dance as a social and/or aesthetic bodily practice, which challenge the emphasis on social constructionism and representation in contemporary body studies. The author uses her ethnographic and analytic research on dance as evidence in chapters 3, 5, 6 and 7 in particular. By drawing on dance analysis, the book offers social and cultural criticism a rich and relatively uncharted terrain for studying and conceptualising expressive bodies.

Type of Research:Book
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:RAE2008 UoA63
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company:Palgrave Macmillan 2003
Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > London College of Fashion
Other Affiliations > RAE 2008
ID Code:1712
Deposited By:Helen Thomas
Deposited On:02 Dec 2009 23:46
Last Modified:29 Sep 2011 09:57
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