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Literature, Performance, and Somaesthetics - Head Work

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Literature, Performance, and Somaesthetics views textual and extra-textual worlds as intimately connected, as forming a continuum, in fact. The essays – on literature, philosophy and the arts – gathered here derive their theoretical inspirations from two realms where embodiment and agency are particularly stressed: namely, from philosophical somaesthetics, a discipline proposed by Richard Shusterman in 1999, and from performance studies, remarkable for its current expansion. In most general terms, the point of convergence for somaesthetics and performativity is their stressing the agency of the embodied and sentient human self. The contributors explore the question of agency in its various manifestations. They examine the construction of literary characters, with emphasis on the representation of their corporeality and affectivity. They look into the problem of the formation of the literary canon as en-acted rather than established, and into literary history as retold rather than re-written. They also focus on the problems of literary reception, considering it on the physical, visceral level. While showing keen interest in performance studies and somaesthetics, the authors also bring in the expertise gained in their primary fields of research. Hence, the ideas explored in their essays are drawn from philosophy, literary theory, cultural studies, psychology, and hard science. The essays here are concerned with a variety of generic forms – epic literature, lyrical poetry, tragedy, experimental novel, thriller, literary history, theological treatise, documentary, flamenco and opera – in order to outline the field in the humanities where literature, philosophy and performance can meet, and where literary studies can benefit from the approaches offered by performance studies and philosophical somaesthetics.

Author Biography

Anna Budziak teaches literature and literary theory at the University of Wrocław, Poland. Her research interests include British decadent aestheticism and Modernism. She has authored two book-length studies on T. S. Eliot (in Polish), and on Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde. The latter, Text, Body and Indeterminacy: Doppelgänger Selves in Pater and Wilde, was shortlisted for the biennial ESSE Book Award, 2008-2010. She has also published articles exploring the interface between literature and philosophy.Katarzyna Lisowska graduated from the Department of Polish Studies at the University of Wrocław, Poland, where she currently teaches poetics. Her research interests comprise gender criticism, queer criticism and feminist literary theory. In her doctoral thesis she considers different kinds of metaphors used in gender discourse as it has functioned in literary studies in Poland since 1989.Jarosław Woźniak graduated from the Department of Polish Studies at the University of Wrocław, Poland. He is currently working on his doctoral thesis devoted to the performative turn in literary theory. His research interests include performance studies, the philosophy of the body, ecocriticism, and the politics of literature.
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