Female Aerialists in the 1920s and Early 1930s : Femininity, Celebrity, and Glamour book cover
1st Edition

Female Aerialists in the 1920s and Early 1930s
Femininity, Celebrity, and Glamour

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 30, 2021
ISBN 9780367182571
November 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
216 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Female solo aerialists of the 1920s and early 1930s were internationally popular performers in the largest live mass entertainment of the period in the UK and USA. Yet these aerialists and this period in circus history have been largely forgotten despite the iconic image of ‘the’ female aerialist still flaring in the popular imagination.

Kate Holmes uses insights gained as a practitioner to reconstruct in detail the British and American performances and public personae of key stars such as Lillian Leitzel, Luisita Leers and the Flying Codonas, revealing what is performed and implicit in today’s practice. Using a wealth of original sources this book considers the forgotten stars whose legacy the cultural image of the female aerialist echoes. Locating performers within wider cultural histories of sport, glamour and gender, this book asks important questions about their stardom, including: Why were female aerialists so alluring when their muscularity challenged conservative ideals of femininity and how did they participate in change? What was it about their movements and the spaces they performed in that activated such strong audience responses?

This book is vital reading for students and practitioners of aerial performance, circus, gender, popular performance, and performance studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Producing Allure & Popularity

Chapter One: Democratising Experience: Diverse Transformative Performance Spaces

Chapter Two: To Glamour: A Kinaesthetic Fantasy of Weightlessness

Chapter Three: Skillful Vulnerability: Showmanship & the Performance of Skill & Risk

Chapter Four: Performing & Negotiating Muscular Femininity: Aerial Celebrity & the Modern Girl

Chapter Five: Absorbing Activity into Femininity: Moving & Exercising Female Bodies

Conclusion: Updating Aerial Celebrity & Re-evaluating Practice

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Kate Holmes is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Exeter. Her aerial research explores historical audience experience from a practitioner-perspective, using approaches that include examining space, gender, and exercise history. Her research has appeared in journals including New Theatre Quarterly and Early Popular Visual Culture and edited collections.