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This volume presents a selection of papers given at the International Conference on Performance at the University of Lausanne in May 1997. Performance is, of course, a term native to the world of theatre, and in this traditional sense it is as alive as ever, as several of the contributions by theatre specialists demonstrate. But this collection of essays also shows that in recent years the term has been fruitfully applied to a wide range of additional subjects. It presents in a genuinely interdisciplinary fashion an excellent survey of this new development. Performance is applied to literature (with essays on canonical writers ranging from Margery Kempe to Joyce and Wallace Stevens) as well as to linguistics (with contributions covering such diverse fields as dialectology, advertising and computational linguistics). In several essays, the notion of performance throws new light on texts which combine orality with literacy, such as in Native American literature or Salman Rushdie`s novels. Other contributors argue for (or test the limits of) performance concepts to redefine the basic modalities of literature and science, which have been described by performance theorists as an arena in which writers perform with language and scientists stage their scientific theories.
The formation of Modernist literature took place in a cultural climate characterised by an unprecedented collaboration between painters, sculptors, writers, musicians and critics on both sides of the Atlantic. Within this multifaceted movement, William Carlos Williams is a paradigmatic case of a writer whose work was the result of a successful attempt at integrating ideas and concepts from the revolutionary visual arts. This book is a major step toward a fuller exploration of the connection between the visual arts and Williams’ concept of the Modernist poem and of his achievement in transcending an art-for-art’s-sake formalism to create poems which both reflect their own nature as a work of art and vividly evoke the world of that they are a part. As Williams’ repeatedly stressed, ‘It must not be forgot that we smell, hear and see with words and words alone and that with a new language we smell, hear and see afresh…’