Intertextual Citations: New York and Trauma in Performances of the body and city

  • Lisa Jayne Wilson

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Violence and trauma are significant components of life. They punctuate human existence in such a way that it affects identity, perception and understanding. This punctuation then is recognised and triggered through experiences that are unexpected and uncanny associations. Therefore, this thesis investigates how art creates uncanny associations with violence and trauma, making clear how New York is an ongoing citation of trauma. It achieves this through the intertextual readings of city, body and performance in relation to the violent events of 9/11. The research investigates how the presence of the body in performance, outside in city spaces, creates a weaving of multiple elements of remembered violence that references the events of 9/11 and connects with the subjective trauma response. Through the case studies of dance, sculpture, photography and 9/11, the presence of the body becomes a constellation of gravitational pull. Around which circle and weave effects and relationships of precarity; impossible space; falling; memory and Memoriam; presence and absence; and stillness that intertextually reference violence and trauma perpetuating these associations across space and time.

    Through the analysis of Man walking Down the Side of a Building (1970) and New Beginnings (2013), it becomes clear how the remembering of violence and trauma can be triggered through performance, perpetuating how violence and trauma continue to influence and impact the social, political, and cultural significance. This research is carried out through an autoethnographic approach that emphasises the cultural and social complexity of human experience related to violence and trauma. This approach incorporates the weaving of auto-ethnographic reflections that have influenced the analysis of the works and the development of new theoretical positions, with existing research in dance, trauma, and philosophy. The research, therefore, aims to address how the subjective trauma response is recognisable in the creative response of others and to understand what effect this recognition has on our understanding of trauma. It will also allow the subjective response of reading texts intertextually, which will clarify what role the city, the body, and performance have in recognising the complexity of the trauma response in the chosen works for analysis
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorEmma Meehan (Supervisor), Victoria Thoms (Supervisor) & Michaelina Jakala (Supervisor)

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