Bodies that Move You: the Rhetorical Force of the Dancing Body

LeMesurier, Jennifer. Bodies that Move You: the Rhetorical Force of the Dancing Body. 2014. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

The emerging interest in materiality within rhetorical studies prompts the question of what role bodies, bodily knowledge, and the affective play in persuasion; how do affective forces, bodily epistemologies, and other sensual ways of knowing impact the rhetorical situation? Generally, rhetorical studies has done a better job of theorizing than studying the lived, material body. In my dissertation, I contribute to these conversations by theorizing and grounding the entanglement of rhetoric and materiality via a sustained ethnographic investigation of a dance program. I document how the body in motion learns, contains, constrains, and enacts rhetorical knowledge, explore how this knowledge intersects with rhetorical structures, and extrapolate how embodied knowledge enables rhetorical performances. The moving body's impact on discourse, other bodies, and rhetorical situations is such that we need to revamp rhetorical theory to account for its influence and reorganize our curriculums and research methods to align with this new understanding of rhetoric.

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