Theses Doctoral

Acting Bodies. The Role of Gestures in German Drama, Film, and Performance.

Schweiger, Sophie Johanna

The dissertation undertakes an extensive investigation of the role of the gesture – from Lessing to emoji. Through close readings of bodily gestures as inscribed in text, documented on film, employed in performance, and shared throughout the cyberspace, the dissertation demonstrates how the human body has been imagined, conceptualized, and disciplined at various points since the second half of the 18th century.

Presenting a reading of the body through the lens of different media, the analyses bring forth moments of disidentification and friction between medium and body: be that in gestural disobedience to ordered stage instructions, in resistance to the demands of the filmic apparatus, or in the form of a non-white emoji. To extrapolate historical developments and also processes of quotation and transference across media, material from different periods and disciplines is assembled: from unpublished manuscripts of the early Enlightenment (G. E. Lessing) via filmic footage from the late Weimar period (G. W. Pabst), to post-dramatic theatre performances around 2000 (Chr. Schlingensief), all the way up to present-day exchanges on social media platforms.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Germanic Languages
Thesis Advisors
Simons, Oliver
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 16, 2021