Meaning in Motion

New Cultural Studies of Dance

Meaning in Motion

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 37 b&w photographs Published: April 1997

Editor: Jane C. Desmond

Cultural Studies, Theater and Performance > Dance

Dance, whether considered as an art form or embodied social practice, as product or process, is a prime subject for cultural analysis. Yet only recently have studies of dance become concerned with the ideological, theoretical, and social meanings of dance practices, performances, and institutions. In Meaning in Motion, Jane C. Desmond brings together the work of critics who have ventured into the boundaries between dance and cultural studies, and thus maps a little-known and rarely explored critical site.
Writing from a broad range of perspectives, contributors from disciplines as varied as art history and anthropology, dance history and political science, philosophy and women’s studies chart the questions and challenges that mark this site. How does dance enact or rework social categories of identity? How do meanings change as dance styles cross borders of race, nationality, or class? How do we talk about materiality and motion, sensation and expressivity, kinesthetics and ideology? The authors engage these issues in a variety of contexts: from popular social dances to the experimentation of the avant-garde; from nineteenth-century ballet and contemporary Afro-Brazilian Carnival dance to hip hop, the dance hall, and film; from the nationalist politics of folk dances to the feminist philosophies of modern dance. Giving definition to a new field of study, Meaning in Motion broadens the scope of dance analysis and extends to cultural studies new ways of approaching matters of embodiment, identity, and representation.

Contributors. Ann Cooper Albright, Evan Alderson, Norman Bryson, Cynthia Cohen Bull, Ann Daly, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Susan Foster, Mark Franko, Marianne Goldberg, Amy Koritz, Susan Kozel, Susan Manning, Randy Martin, Angela McRobbie, Kate Ramsey, Anna Scott, Janet Wolff


“[Desmond] take[s] important strides toward theorizing the complex relations between corporeality and identity in dance. The range of approaches to embodiment . . . should be of partiular interest to feminist and other cultural studies scholars. . . . [She] provides invaluable source material for students and . . . makes crucial contributions to an expanding scholarship.” — Valerie A. Briginshaw , Signs

“This is a timely and welcome contribution to the flourishing field of critical dance scholarship and to interdisciplinary work at the crossroads of the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences. . . . This book shows how the formerly marginalized field of dance studies has not only profited from theoretical developments in other fields and disciplines but, most importantly, has provided a fruitful and concrete subject for such developments.” — Zoila S. Mendoza, American Anthropologist

“Excellent! Meaning in Motion will make it much easier for scholars concerned primarily with cultural studies to consider the challenges dance poses in ‘rethinking the body.’” — Peggy Phelan, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

Open Access