Literature, Performance, and Somaesthetics. Studies in Agency and Embodiment
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Editor(s): Anna Budziak, Katarzyna Lisowska, Jarosław Woźniak.
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.
- Urszula Lisowska, Anna Budziak, Ágnes Bató, András Berze, Matthew Biberman, Alex Ciorogar, Lilla Farmasi, Zuzanna Kozłowska, Katarzyna Lisowska, Sabina Macioszek, Joanna Maj, Gloria Luque Moya, Iulia Maria Rădac, Aleksander Trojanowski, Paulina Tchurzewska, Konrad Wojnowski, Jarosław Woźniak;
Product reviews for Literature, Performance, and Somaesthetics
“Literature, Performance, and Somaesthetics is an exciting collection of original essays by a new generation of young international scholars who tackle a wide range of topics in philosophy, literature and the arts with admirable multidisciplinary skills and insightful intelligence. Central to the book is a commitment to the performative and somatic dimensions of culture in all its diverse expressive forms, and the compelling arguments of the collected essays vindicate that commitment.”
Professor Richard Shusterman
Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities, Florida Atlantic University
„Alex Ciorogar in his essay “From Somaesthetics to the Stylistics of Existence” is also concerned with the ameliorative function of art. In his paper, Ciorogar brings together two disciplines: on the one hand, he outlines the characteristics and aims of Shusterman’s philosophy, on the other hand, he looks at a branch of studies that has recently arisen within the field opened and outlined with Shusterman’s explorations—Marielle Macé’s Anthropology of Practices, or a Stylistics of Existence. Their affinity is noted in their approach to the notion of style as embodied and in their engagement with literature. Shusterman uses literary examples when describing various styles of living, which, Ciorogar claims, function as “worksheets” for self-improvement. Literature, on this view, can help us to develop “a sense of harmony” and improve the quality of our interpersonal relations; thus, art inspires life. Macé, in turn, views the act of reading as artistic: she elaborates the theory of the reading practice as an aesthetic process, as a part of the stylistics of existence. Ciorogar compares the two approaches, showing that they come together in their concepts of the non- essentialist, relational self and through their involvement with literature, though they differ in their emphases on the social and individualist aspects of the self, respectively. However, most importantly, Ciorogar seems to suggest, both Shusterman’s somaesthetics and Macé’s stylistics of existence are concerned with the ethical project of shaping the relational self through various stylistic practices, and they both are concerned with finding a correlation between the styles of living, reading and writing, or between soma and text”.