The Routledge Circus Studies Reader offers an absorbing critical introduction to this diverse and emerging field. It brings together the work of over 30 scholars in this discipline, including Janet Davis, Helen Stoddart and Peta Tait, to highlight and address the field’s key historical, critical and theoretical issues. It is organised into three accessible sections, Perspectives, Precedents and Presents, which approach historical aspects, current issues, and the future of circus performance.
The chapters, grouped together into 13 theme-based sub-sections, provide a clear entry point into the field and emphasise the diversity of approaches available to students and scholars of circus studies. Classic accounts of performance, including pieces by Philippe Petit and Friedrich Nietzsche, are included alongside more recent scholarship in the field.
Edited by two scholars whose work is strongly connected to the dynamic world of performance, The Routledge Circus Studies Reader is an essential teaching and study resource for the emerging discipline of circus studies. It also provides a stimulating introduction to the field for lovers of circus.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations -- List of contributors -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction: circus perspectives, precedents and presents /PETA TAIT AND KATIE LAVERS -- PART I -- Perspectives -- Aesthetics -- 1 Aesthetics /HELEN STODDART -- 2 The staging of actions: heroes, antiheroes and animal actors /PAUL BOUISSAC -- 3 An epic of new circus /MARTINE MALEVAL, translated by JANE MULLETT -- 4 The man in the red coat: management in the circus /RON BEADLE AND DAVID KÖNYÖT -- The clown -- 5 Clowns and clown play /LOUISE PEACOCK -- 6 Diminutive catastrophe: clown’s play /MAGGI PHILLIPS -- Cross-arts -- 7 Circus music: the eye of the ear /KIM BASTON -- 8 Art and androgyny: the aerialist /NAOMI RITTER -- 9 When the future was now: Archaos within a theatre tradition /ROBERTA MOCK -- Gender and sexuality -- 10 Respectable female nudity /JANET M. DAVIS -- 11 A queer circus: Amok in New York /MARK SUSSMAN -- Race -- 12 Celebrated, then implied but finally denied: the erosion of Aboriginal identity in Australian circus, 1850s to 1950s /MARK ST LEON -- Sideshows -- 13 Freaks of culture: institutions, publics and the subjects of ethnographic knowledge /RACHEL ADAMS -- 14 The Jim Rose Circus Side Show: representing the postmodern body in pain /CARRIE SANDAHL -- Child performers -- 15 Sensational imbalance: the child acrobat and the mid-Victorians /BRENDA ASSAEL -- Spectators -- 16 Ecstasy and visceral flesh in motion /PETA TAIT -- 17 Marginal body: the British acrobat in reference to sport /YORAM S. CARMELI -- PART II -- Precedents -- Origins -- 18 The circus and nature in late Georgian England /MARIUS KWINT -- 19 The American circus /DON B. WILMETH -- 20 P.T. Barnum: the legend and the man /A.H. SAXON -- 21 Notes on the Mexican–American circus /NICOLÁS KANELLOS -- 22 The circus and modernity: a commitment to ‘the newer’ and ‘the newest’ /GILLIAN ARRIGHI -- Politics -- 23 Bending the body for China: the uses of acrobatics in Sino-US diplomacy during the Cold War /TRACY YING ZHANG -- 24 When pigs could fly and bears could dance: a peculiar institution /MIRIAM NEIRICK -- 25 A contemporary history of circus arts in Buenos Aires, Argentina: the post-dictatorial resurgence and revaluation of circus as a popular art /JULIETA INFANTINO -- Physical exceptionalism -- 26 To reach the clouds: my high-wire walk between the Twin Towers /PHILIPPE PETIT -- 27 Thus Spoke Zarathustra /FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, translated by R.J. HOLLINGDALE -- Animal performers -- 28 Why circuses are unsuited to elephants /LORI ALWARD -- 29 View from the big top: why elephants belong in North American circuses /DENNIS SCHMITT -- PART III -- Presents -- 30 Female circus performers and art: the shift to creative art forms and its implications /MAGALI SIZORN -- 31 The resilient body in social circus: Father Jesus Silva, Boris Cyrulnik and Peter A. Levine /KATIE LAVERS -- 32 Risk, danger and other paradoxes in circus and Circus Oz parody /PETA TAIT -- 33 The Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas: an American strip-tease /LOUIS PATRICK LEROUX -- 34 Contemporary Nordic circus: introduction to the art form /TOMI PUROVAARA -- 35 Contemporary circus research in Québec: building and negotiating an emerging interdisciplinary field /LOUIS PATRICK LEROUX -- Selected Bibliography -- Index.
Peta Tait is chair of Theatre and Drama at LaTrobe University, Australia. Her previous publications include Circus Bodies: Cultural identity in aerial performance (2005) and Wild and Dangerous Performances: Animals, emotions, circus (2012)
Katie Lavers is a director and producer of inter-media circus, as co-founder and director of Skadada circus company.