Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenInstitut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft

"Staging the Body" - poststructuralist notions of the body

BA-ATW-05; MA-ATW-04, 05; MA-CuP-02, 08, 09

In this seminar, we will deal with several notions and concepts of the body emerging from the thought of writers that are now commonly connected with the term poststructuralism. The body appears in these writings, for example, as an intersection between symbolic articulation and imaginary appearance (Lacan), as a utopian agent or tool for subjectification (Foucault) as performative materialization of gender identities (Butler) or as a reservoir for virtual potentialities that strive towards their becoming. (Deleuze).
As different as they might appear at first sight, those conceptions share at least the insight that there is no body as such, no body as a given entity that can be immediately approached, without taking into account the modes that produce intelligibility in cultural systems of knowledge, power and communication. The performing arts and the emerging discourse around performativity especially did a great deal to challenge the understanding of a body that is just there, belonging to a self-identical autonomous subjectivity with its properties of a given gender-, race-, and class identity. The body "on stage" is always imbedded in several discourse formations, it is dispossessed by normative orders and disclosed by the gaze of the other, it hides what it claims to reveal and it points towards an existence still to come.
In the frame of the seminar we will challenge our-selves with close-readings of crucial texts from the context of French/American post-structuralism. Examples from the field of performing arts will help us to understand the "double reality" of the body: an apparent material fact that is at the same time highly codified, systematized and shaped.