Rings of Desire: Circus History and Representation

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Manchester University Press, 2000 - Performing Arts - 209 pages
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The circus has been both one of the most influential forms of international popular entertainment and yet at the same time remains almost entirely absent from academic studies of popular theatrical forms. This book offers readers an introduction to the cultural history of the circus and gives an account of the dominant characteristics of the circus's aesthetic practices and relates these to the sometimes precarious developments, changes and variations in its economic organization, architecture and social status. The book goes on to outline the particular challenges that this essentially live, dangerous and body-centred form presents to literary and film representation and does so through the particular examples of works by Charles Dickens, Federico Fellini and Wim Wenders. This wide-ranging and accessible book offers ways of thinking about the meaning and significance of the circus as a specifically modern form of art and entertainment.

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Rings of desire: circus history and representation

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That archaic fantasy machine that for generations has spun the circus into an adolescent and artistic French Foreign Legion for runaways and misfits continues to provide dramatic grist for authors ... Read full review

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Histoire du cirque anglais.


Legitimacy and status 6 5
Fellini and the circus
representing the female aerialist

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Page 194 - acts, gestures, enactments generally construed, are performative in the sense that the essence or identity that they otherwise purport to express are fabrications manufactured and sustained through corporeal signs and other discursive means'.
Page 205 - seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger', which
Page 205 - thinking suddenly stops in a configuration pregnant with tensions, it gives that configuration a shock, by which it crystallises into a monad'.
Page 205 - image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognised and is never seen again

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About the author (2000)

Helen Stoddart is Lecturer in English and Film Studies at Keele University.

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