This input introduces the fresh epistemological potential which might be teased from some comparison of the traditional figure of the communal mystic, or shaman, with examples of early cinema’s slapstick clowns: performers who might endure in a popular and a philosophical relevance, through their critical location at the dawn of a new age of technology. Seizing on the work of Buster Keaton in particular, the contribution considers some representative footage as if it were the visual utterance of a sage—perhaps one trying to rescue a sublime materiality from the threat of the super-functionalism that would come to define late modernity. By way of its comparative method the chapter reflects, as it invokes, the content and mood of an overarching research agenda, which challenges the fragmenting ontological distinction of people from those material objects, which tend to be perceived as inert. The subsequent reframing of Keaton’s slapstick makes some vital connections with ancient drama, contemporary performance studies, and the burgeoning material culture project. The methodological returns, of this interdisciplinary approach, help to illuminate just how this Keaton’s comedy might work to heal the enduring rift with a process-earth. But as the performance and materiality discourses intertwine, they also conspire to provide some reminder of a shamanic spirit that withstands in any dwelling on the productivity of encounters—as this accepts pedagogical varieties such as this one.
Edited by Walter Bernhart and Werner Wolf
The present volume meets a frequently expressed demand as it is the first collection of all the relevant essays and articles which Steven Paul Scher has written on Literature and Music over a period of almost forty years in the field of Word and Music Studies. Scher, The Daniel Webster Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA, is one of the founding fathers of Word and Music Studies and a leading authority in what is in the meantime a well-established intermedial field. He has published very widely in a variety of journals and collections of essays, which until now have not always been easy to lay one’s hands on. His work covers a wide range of subjects and comprises theoretical, methodological and historical studies, which include discussions of Ferruccio Busoni, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Judith Weir, the Talking Heads and many others and which pay special attention to E. T. A. Hoffmann and German Romanticism. The range and depth of these studies have made him the ‘mastermind’ of Word and Music Studies who has defined the basic aims and objectives of the discipline. This volume is of interest to literary scholars and musicologists as well as comparatists and all those concerned about the rapidly expanding field of Intermedia Studies.
Essays in Honor of Steven Paul Scher and on Cultural Identity and the Musical Stage
Edited by Suzanne M. Lodato, Suzanne Aspden and Walter Bernhart
The eighteen interdisciplinary essays in this volume were presented in 2001 in Sydney, Australia, at the Third International Conference on Word and Music Studies, which was sponsored by The International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA). The conference celebrated the sixty-fifth birthday of Steven Paul Scher, arguably the central figure in word and music studies during the last thirty-five years. The first section of this volume comprises ten articles that discuss, or are methodologically based upon, Scher’s many analyses of and critical commentaries on the field, particularly on interrelationships between words and music. The authors cover such topics as semiotics, intermediality, hermeneutics, the de-essentialization of the arts, and the works of a wide range of literary figures and composers that include Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Proust, T. S. Eliot, Goethe, Hölderlin, Mann, Britten, Schubert, Schumann, and Wagner. The second section consists of a second set of papers presented at the conference that are devoted to a different area of word and music studies: cultural identity and the musical stage. Eight scholars investigate – and often problematize – widespread assumptions regarding ‘national’ and ‘cultural’ music, language, plots, and production values in musical stage works. Topics include the National Socialists’ construction of German national identity; reception-based examinations of cultural identity and various “national” opera styles; and the means by which composers, librettists, and lyricists have attempted to establish national or cultural identity through their stage works.