Performance and Modernity

Enacting Change on the Globalizing Stage

How do ideas take shape? How do concepts emerge into form? This book argues that they take shape quite literally in the human body, often appearing on stage in new styles of performance. Focusing on the historical period of modernity, “Performance and Modernity: Enacting Change on the Globalizing Stage” demonstrates how the unforeseen impact of economic, industrial, political, social, and psychological change was registered in bodily metaphors that took shape on stage. In new styles of performance-acting, dance, music, pageantry, avant-garde provocations, film, video and networked media-this book finds fresh evidence for how modernity has been understood and lived, both by stage actors, who, in modeling new habits, gave emerging experiences an epistemological shape, and by their audiences, who, in borrowing the strategies performers enacted, learned to adapt to a modernizing world.


‘This is a confident, intellectually rigorous, stimulating and innovative book. The perspectives it offers on the relationship between cultural innovation and performance practices, the space it opens for an embodied understanding of historical materials, and the claims it stages for the centrality of performance – not only to historical narrative, but to the process of historical change itself – will make it an important and influential addition to the Performance Studies canon. It deserves to find a wide and enthusiastic readership.’

Sophie Nield – Royal Holloway, University of London

‘This is a deeply rich and wide-ranging study. It contains subtle readings of little-considered theatrical texts; erudite and illuminating surveys that approach well-trodden historical material from fresh and unexpected angles; and provocative methodological musings on major problems in the study of reception and the history of acting.’

Margaret Werry – University of Minnesota

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