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Title: Re-embodying the alienation of exile : feminist subjectivity, spectatorship, politics and performance
Author: Milanovic, Vesna
ISNI:       0000 0001 3398 0621
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis maps and performs a new approach to the work of a major twentieth century artist, and outlines an interpretative framework as a model for a broader contemporary exploration of the theme of exile as it is lived and experienced in both personal and political ways at the end of the twentieth and twenty-first century. The main body of the thesis is a scholarly endeavour of `re-thinking Woyzeck through Marie's gaze', and thereby seeks to illuminate the major themes of politics, gender and poetics in Nadj's Woyzeck, staged in 1994, as a significant dance theatre work. The thesis argues that the political turbulence in `Post- (Berlin) Wall' Europe had a great impact on theatre and dance performance practice. In this context, Woyzeck is examined from a number of critical perspectives, and is treated as an influential political and dramatic text which can shed light on the more general process of `performing exile' that is alienating and re embodying it in a performance context. Beyond this critical analysis, however, the thesis also offers a performative voice engaging in debate with itself, and creates a new technology tool for testing its own theories in performance practice: the PORT (Performance Online in Real Time) application. The thesis as written, and as performed, is both academic and personal: the journey of the thesis is the journey of my body, my mind, my critical understanding, as I have worked to escape the lingering sense of not belonging to my own country (Serbia), my adopted country (England), and the invisible boundaries, memories and liminal spaces between. The thesis thus studies Woyzeck's construction of a woman's view of her own not-belonging, and offers a scholarly analysis from the first person, embodied knowledge of another woman's understanding: it maps a journey into exile and out again through language (spoken, gestural, and theoretical) and through the movement of the body as a form of self-reclamation beyond spoken and written language. By applying a hybrid feminist and psychoanalytic approach to this intertextual analysis of `the feminine gaze' in each of the transdiciplinary arguments put forward, the thesis aims to both challenge and examine the stereotype of the female figure's (Marie's) role in Nadj's Woyzeck as well as the role of the female spectator and performer. Focus is directed at important signifying objects and acts in the play: e. g. the significance of the `red necklace', seen as an apt metaphor for the silenced female voice and the exiled subjectivity of this female character. Through application of a feminist/ psychoanalytic approach in the intertextual analysis, the thesis pays particular attention to the spectator's gaze and Marie's gaze, and to the act of reframing her role and questioning her position as the `objectified other' in a performative space. In this repositioning of Marie more centrally within the story of her own exile, the aim is to provide a platform from which she might act as a `speaking subject' as she writes Her own story, which is also my story, and the story of many exiled women in theatrical texts. The main theoretical influence on this work is Helene Cixous' feminist theory, which though frequently applied to the field of performance studies in general, has not been studied in relation to this precise theme of exile in performance in an embodied and technologyenhanced study. By not only rewriting Marie's story but also re-enacting my own, and further capturing this story of exile in a new technology tool created as part of the research for this thesis, I see, to challenge the role of the spectator/reader in the performance analysis, inviting him/her to witness the performance event and to engage as a political and gendered speaking subject. I also aim to offer a technology tool that other actors, dancers and scholars will find useful in their own performance experiments in future. This thesis seeks to make a significant and original contribution to the fields of knowledge in Performance Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies and Digital Media Art, and draws upon more established fields in Feminist Theory and Cultural Studies for the base upon which these newer approaches can be positioned.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available