Choreographing the Borderline: Dancing with Kristeva

Philosophy Today 56 (1):49-58 (2012)
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In this paper I will investigate Kristeva’s conception of dance in regard to the trope of the borderline. I will begin with her explicit treatments of dance, the earliest of which occurs in Revolution in Poetic Language, in terms of (a) her analogy between poetry and dance as practices erupting on the border of chora and society, (b) her presentation of dance as a phenomenon bordering art and religion in rituals, and (c) her brief remarks on dance gesturality. I will then follow this latter movement to the 1969 essay “Gesturality,” to critically examine where Kristeva situates the powers and limits of gesture (and thereby dance) in relation to language. Next, I will move to the later text, The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt, where the image of dance figures prominently in what I will term Kristeva’s joyful re-choreographing of Freud’s text Totem and Taboo. I will also see how her treatment of dance links more directly to Kristeva’s feminist concerns, insofar as she understands the process of choreography as a kind of maternal function neglected in most psychoanalytic thought.
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