Circus as Multimodal Discourse: Performance, Meaning, and Ritual

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A&C Black, Oct 11, 2012 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 288 pages
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Now available in paperback, this volume presents a theory of the circus as a secular ritual and introduces a method to analyze its performances as multimodal discourse.

The book's fifteen chapters cover the range of circus specialties (magic, domestic and wild animal training, acrobatics, and clowning) and provide examples to show how cultural meaning is produced, extended and amplified by circus performances. Bouissac is one of the world's leading authorities on circus ethnography and semiotics and this work is grounded on research conducted over a 50 year span in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.

It concludes with a reflection on the potentially subversive power of this discourse and its contemporary use by activists. Throughout, it endeavours to develop an analytical approach that is mindful of the epistemological traps of both positivism and postmodernist license. It brings semiotics and ethnography to bear on the realm of the circus.
 

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Contents

Playing with Fire
1
Participative Ethnography
10
Disentangling Cognition and Pleasure
28
3 Magic in the Ring
48
4 Horses which Speak Count and Laugh
58
Multimodal Metaphors
74
Heroes Antiheroes and Animal Actors
92
7 Circus Animals as Symbols Actors and Persons
104
A Sociocritical Discourse
144
10 The Imaginary Circus
159
11 Ideology and Politics in the Circus Ring
170
12 The Postanimal Circus
188
Pleasures of the Circus Attraction Emotion and Addiction
199
Bibliography
209
Index
215
Copyright

Translating Biology into Art
115

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About the author (2012)

Paul Bouissac is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto (Victoria College), Canada. He is a world renowned figure in semiotics and a pioneer of circus studies. He runs the SemiotiX Bulletin [www.semioticon.com/semiotix] which has a global readership.

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