The Minor Gesture

The Minor Gesture

Thought in the Act

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Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 22 photographs Published: June 2016

Author: Erin Manning

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Disability Studies, Politics > Political Theory

In this wide-ranging and probing book Erin Manning extends her previous inquiries into the politics of movement to the concept of the minor gesture. The minor gesture, although it may pass almost unperceived, transforms the field of relations. More than a chance variation, less than a volition, it requires rethinking common assumptions about human agency and political action. To embrace the minor gesture's power to fashion relations, its capacity to open new modes of experience and manners of expression, is to challenge the ways in which the neurotypical image of the human devalues alternative ways of being moved by and moving through the world—in particular what Manning terms "autistic perception." Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalysis and Whitehead's speculative pragmatism, Manning's far-reaching analyses range from fashion to depression to the writings of autistics, in each case affirming the neurodiversity of the minor and the alternative politics it gestures toward.


"Manning emphasizes a kind of affect that brings to the fore a feeling of being a part of a larger environment, something relational, something that helps people to see themselves as part of something bigger." — Karen Simecek, Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

"The Minor Gesture is a fascinating and intellectually challenging book that successfully problematises common-sense (neurotypical) understandings of perception, action and embodiment. In doing so it politicises mundane everyday experience and calls for sustained critique of normatively framed lifeworlds." — Ben Simmons, Disability & Society

"A wide-ranging and carefully argued book. . . . Now that we know just how much mental activity escapes our conscious awareness and defies standard and dialectical accounts of knowledge, reason, and agency, efforts like Manning’s to better understand neurodiversity and to mobilize that understanding for research-creation and political activism alike are invaluable." — Eugene W. Holland, Contemporary Political Theory

"I have been enthralled and held by this book! Erin Manning has given us a new theory of bearing, as well as a new elaboration of gesture, going beyond Balzac’s theory and Agamben’s interpretation of it. She doesn’t lament the loss of gesture but celebrates gesture's minoritization." — Fred Moten, author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition

"How can we voice the unsayable, unsettle the categorical, reach for that which lies beyond conceptualization? How can we enter that midstream of movement, becoming, and differentiation that courses between the banks of the given, yet from which all perceiving, doing, and thinking wells? In this passionate book Erin Manning answers: by heeding the wisdom of those whom the majority call 'autistic.' From their experience she derives a vocabulary—of attention, inflection, directionality, incipience, sympathy, and the undercommons—that carries forth the impetus of life in the minor key. This is a book for scholars, for activists, indeed for anyone in love with life."  — Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Erin Manning is University Research Chair in Relational Art and Philosophy in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University. She is the author of several books, including Always More Than One: Individuation's Dance, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix

Introduction: In a Minor Key  1

1. Against Method  26

2. Artfulness: Emergent Collectives and Processes of Individuation  46

3. Weather Patterns, or How Minor Gestures Entertain the Environment  64

4. Dress Becomes Body: Fashioning the Force of Form  86

5. Choreographing the Political  111

6. Carrying the Feeling  131

7. In the Act: The Shape of Precarity  165

8. What a Body Can Do: A Conversation with Arno Boehler  189

Postscript: Affirmation without Credit  201

Notes  233

References  261

Index  269
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6121-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6103-9