The Modernist Review #20: Moving Bodies


1st June 2020

Is the stay-at-home order making you notice your body more? Maybe it’s the niggling aches and pains that are making you miss the ergonomic desk chair in your office, or are making you wish you had one in the first place. Perhaps you’re a FitBit wielding, 10,000 steps per day kind of lockdown warrior – or, like us, you’re feeling victimised by your iPhone tracker telling you, ‘on average, you’re moving less this year compared to last year’. 

Continue reading “The Modernist Review #20: Moving Bodies”

Performing the Past: Alexander Sacharoff and the Modernist Body

Francesca Dytor, University of Cambridge

1 June 2020

The dancing body is a special kind of body. Taking centre stage, it invites criticism, demands praise, and at certain moments has functioned as a crucible for debate over the proper nature of the body. With the emergence of European modern dance at the beginning of the twentieth century, the dancing body was at the centre of discussions over the possible forms that knowledge could take.[1] Could knowledge be embodied in the dancing body? Was this knowledge a form of cultural memory or of scholarship? What relationship did the dancer in particular have with the past? This article outlines one way in which the past was performed in the 1910s, and the distinctions drawn by contemporary spectators between a reconstruction of the past, and the more problematic embodiment of it. Continue reading “Performing the Past: Alexander Sacharoff and the Modernist Body”

Book Review: Dance, Modernism, and Modernity

Róisín O’Brien 

1 June 2020

Ramsay Burt and Michael Huxley, Dance, Modernism and Modernity, (London: Routledge, 2019)

Ask someone what comes to mind when they hear the term ‘modern dance’, and you may get a vague answer relating to jazz, or that it’s ‘not ballet’. Ramsay Burt (De Montfort University) and Michael Huxley’s (De Montfort University) book Dance, Modernism and Modernity (2019) explores, amongst other things, how choreographies of ‘authenticity’, or the popular appeal of some productions, might not sit within but instead expand notions of modernism(s), alongside investigating how dance intersects with modernity. The authors aim to look at how ‘dancing developed and responded to, or came out of an ambivalence about, or a reaction against, the experience of living in modern times’ (p. 1). Continue reading “Book Review: Dance, Modernism, and Modernity”

Book Review: Invalid Modernism: Disability and the Missing Body of the Aesthetic

Aaron Pugh, University of Kent

1 June 2020

Michael Davidson, Invalid Modernism: Disability and the Missing Body of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)

In Invalid Modernism, Michael Davidson compellingly situates disability at the heart of what he terms ‘the missing body of the aesthetic’ in modernist art and literature. In this study, Davidson produces a sweeping and persuasive survey that reveals a litany of bodies and minds which, he suggests, could no longer be contained, reduced or marginalised within ‘normative versions of national, gendered or racialised identity’ (p. 12). Davidson develops an intersectional statement of intent which repositions disability as being, not an extension, but a constitutive element of a varied range of modernist texts. Supplemented by close readings of canonical modernists such as Djuna Barnes, Samuel Beckett, F. T. Marinetti and Virginia Woolf, Dadaist and Surrealist aesthetic interventions, as well as a selection of experimental contemporary texts, Davidson resolutely constructs a study that expertly demonstrates ‘the various ways in which disability is an absent presence in the theory and practice of cultural production’ (p. 141). Continue reading “Book Review: Invalid Modernism: Disability and the Missing Body of the Aesthetic”

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