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Art of (dis)obedience: A Study of Critical Embodiment Through a Circus Body


Art of (dis)obedience: A Study of Critical Embodiment Through a Circus Body

Dugan, Dana (2019) Art of (dis)obedience: A Study of Critical Embodiment Through a Circus Body. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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In a critical examination of circus and its larger socio-political context, the concept and practice of (dis)obedience aims to alter or eradicate authoritarian power relationships between the doing and undoing of oppressive codes and traditional embodiments - normal and queer, success and failure - as a circus body. Its intent functions to expose and interrogate such binary power relationships and transgress authoritarian paradigms such as North American circus and Paul Preciado’s pharmacopornographic capitalism. How can a circus body and its embodied knowledge re-imagine and challenge current existing authoritarian paradigms?
The inquiry into what a circus body is, its embodied knowledge (technical and aesthetic practices), and its relation to and engagement with authority are explored in this thesis. The inquiries originated from my hermeneutic phenomenological circus practice and informed my theoretical investigations. I investigated through my circus body as both researcher and object of study, providing unique insights into the particularities of that common engagement. Through this process, the circus body, its embodied knowledge, and (dis)obedience emerged as the three pivotal concepts of interest in this research. In current circus discourse, these concepts have yet to be fully explored. There are two parts to this thesis—a thesis performance (Dialogues of Disobedience), which in turn informs the second part, the theoretical analysis and synthesis in Art of (dis)obedience: A study of critical embodiment through a circus body. The result is a working theoretical proposition for four of the nine essentials I identify of a circus body – a baseline model for understanding the specificities of my circus body and for establishing the habits developed through technical practice as a form of embodied knowledge. From (dis)obedience, new embodiments and practices manifested in queer and grotesque aesthetics that serve socially conscious practice and performance. Unconventional propositions of new performance forms in both artistic and scholarly mediums emerged from the act of undoing through (dis)obedience towards self-determination and innovation.
This thesis offers discourse from a practice-based perspective that is highly under-represented in current circus research. It also strives to speak to both the scholarly and artistic communities, and to contribute to the burgeoning field of circus scholarship through an intimate account of my approach to artistic scholarly research.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Dugan, Dana
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:21 January 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Willkie, Angelique and Janssen, Shauna and Charles, Batson
Keywords:a circus body, embodiment, embodied knowledge, habits, disobedience, self-determination, pharmacopornographic capitalism, practice-based artistic inquiry, queer, grotesque
ID Code:984943
Deposited By: Dana Dugan
Deposited On:04 Feb 2020 18:48
Last Modified:04 Feb 2020 18:48
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