Dance on the Page, Poetry on Stage: Encounters between Modernist German Poetry and Dance

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Dance on the Page, Poetry on Stage: Encounters between Modernist German Poetry and Dance

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This dissertation examines themes of identity, kinesthetic empathy, movement and rhythm, materiality, and corporeality in texts and performances, past and contemporary, that stage encounters between German-language modernist lyric poetry and dance. While prominent traditions of scholarship look at the intermediality of art forms as a defining feature of modernism, dance has received significantly less scholarly attention than other art forms. This is particularly remarkable given the fact that many modernist authors were drawn to dance and that the writings of early modern dancers repeatedly called for the establishment of dance as an art form level with music and poetry. Dance of the early 20th century and the field of dance studies offer literary and cultural studies a unique system of knowledge production, by which I mean practices that contribute to the development and circulation of new concepts and methods. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to examining instances of dance in modernist German poetry, this project aims to provide insight into why the dancer was such an attractive subject for poets as well as to highlight the gaps and tensions between dancing and writing. With the trope of dance in lyric poetry as a point of departure, I bring well-known dance poems and less commonly discussed poems of the period into dialog with the theories of poetics and theories of modern dance that emerged during the early part of the 20th century. In an effort to further work against a text/performance dichotomy, the final chapter undertakes a study of contemporary choreographic works of the past few decades that stage a modernist poetic text. Combining analyses and close readings of poetry, poetic theories, archival materials, performances, and theoretical conversations that intersect literary and dance studies, the project seeks to broaden the ways in which people view and discuss the role of dance in and for modernist German poetry as well as poetry within contemporary dance performances. An interdisciplinary look at the modernist dance-poetry intersection demonstrates that many questions and concepts of interest to modernists receive renewed or continued attention today.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2019. Major: Germanic Studies. Advisor: Charlotte Melin. 1 computer file (PDF iii, 212 pages.

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Tripp, Meagan. (2019). Dance on the Page, Poetry on Stage: Encounters between Modernist German Poetry and Dance. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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