Cultural Studies Program
Subject: Interpretive and critical aspects of 20th century dance
Abstract: The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk regards the invention of medical anaesthesia as a revolution second only to the French Revolution. He argues that if July 14th, 1789 signifies a liberation from political despotism, then the first surgery under ether in 1846 is to be viewed as a fracture in the despotism of pain over man. Following this line of thought, I examine other sites in contemporary life in which an aspect of anaesthesia plays the constitutive role. By anaesthesia I mean a deliberate, controlled, and temporary suspension of sensual perception that allows a foreign agent of power a space of action without resistance from the anaesthetized subject. That very power may either heal the anaesthetized body, violate it, or make it dance – and in all of these cases radically change it. In my research, I wish to illustrate a system of similarities that connects the sites which form this power-triangle, and then rethink the history of modern dance as a phenomenon whose aesthetic power lies in the an-aesthetic spectrum between remedy and violence.
My thesis dissertation is written under the supervision of Prof. Vivian Liska and Dr. Carola Hilfrich.
MA Honors 2020/21