Dance and British Literature: An Intermedial Encounter

(Theory - Typology - Case Studies)


Dance and literature seem to have much in common. Both are part of a culture, represent a culture, and subvert a culture. Yet at the same time, they appear to be medial antagonists: one is kinetic and multimedial, the other (often) verbal and seemingly mono-medial.
What happens, however, when both meet; when movement is integrated into the literary world or even replaces verbal communication? Dance is artistic and popular, traditional and innovative, bodily and ephemeral. It holds cultural and kinetic information in a nutshell and thus brings movement and cultural history into a text.
Shakespeare’s plays, Restoration comedy, 19th century caricature, popular and elitist theatre, all make use of dance as special means of signification. Thus, this study explores dance in British literature from Shakespeare to Yeats, and illustrates the many ways in which these two forms of artistic expression can enter into various kinds of intermedial encounters and cultural alliances.

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Maria Marcsek-Fuchs is a lecturer of British Literary and Cultural Studies at the Technische Universität Braunschweig. She studied English and German Studies at the University of Regensburg and completed her Doctorate (PhD) at the Technische Universität Braunschweig. She also holds a Degree (Diploma) in Choreography from the Palucca University of Dance in Dresden and completed her Dance Studies at the Joffrey Ballet School and the School of American Ballet, New York. Her research interests include Intermediality and Adaptation Studies, Shakespeare Studies, Popular and Participatory Culture as well as 19th Century Drama. She founded the Tanz-Sport-Theater at the Universität Regensburg and is currently director of the TUBS-Players at the Technische Universität Braunschweig.
1. Introduction
2. THEORY: Mediality and Literalised Dance
2.1. Definition of Medium
2.2. Literature as Medium
2.2.1. A Semiotic Perspective on Literature
2.2.2. From a Semiotic to a Cultural Perspective on Literature
2.3. Dance as Medium .
2.3.1. General Statements
2.3.2. A Semiotic Perspective on Dance Movement Time Space
2.3.3. From a Semiotic through a Cultural
to an Intermedial Perspective on Dance Dance Genres as Markers of
Class, National Identity, and Gender The Body and Signification .
3. TYPOLOGY: Literalised Dance as Intermedial Encounter
3.1. Intermediality as a Concept
3.2. Toward a Typology of Literalised Dance
3.2.1. A Semiotic Approach Extra-compositional Intermediality Intra-compositional Intermediality
3.2.2. A Cultural Approach Literalised Dance as a
Platform for Cultural Discourse . Representations of Dance Culture
in Poetry and Caricature
4. CASE STUDIES: Literalised Dance in British Drama
4.1. Dance in British Drama
from the Renaissance to the 18th Century
4.1.1. Plurimediality in Renaissance Masques—
Dance as Allegory of Order: Jonson’s Hymenaei and
Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Jonson’s Pleasure
Reconciled to Virtue, Milton’s Comus
4.1.2. Intermedial Reference and Cultural Ridicule
in Restoration and 18th Century Comedy:
Wycherley’s The Gentleman Dancing Master,
Sheridan’s The Rivals
4.2. Dance in British Drama of the 19th Century
4.2.1. Popular Literature and the Waltz The Waltz: A Public Scandal and
its Poetic Representations The Waltz in 19th Century
‘Illegitimate’ Drama
4.2.2. Elitist Drama and Modern Dance Presence through Absence:
Oscar Wilde’s Salome The Revolution of Modernism:
Yeats and Modern Dance 5. Conclusion
Works Cited
List of Illustrations
The book will be of interest for both scholars of literary studies and dance studies. Since the focus rests on British Literature, readers will come from the field of British (literary) studies but will also comprise scholars of general literary and cultural studies. The study examines dance as a signifying medium in literary texts, thus students of theatre studies as well as theatre practicioners might also find it interesting.