Notes: Feminist Performance, Film and the Post-disciplinary

January 29, 2009

One of the most beautiful textual films has to be Elise Hurwitz’s short film “I Raise My Arm” (1993).  Attaching sections of Super 8 footage which contain fragments of text to 16mm footage, Hurwitz creates a narrative that seems to trace a trip through the interior of a body.  She punctuated the story with pieces of scratched black leader and white circular shapes so that between the description of the movement we see what this movement through the veins and arteries looks like.  It is the text, though, that we crave.  Hurwitz reveals only brief fragments at a time – two or three words – and they slide past the frame quickly.  The result is a growing desire to read, to catch both the poetry and the unfolding “drama” before it slips by. (Holly Willis, C3I)

Feminist studies results from activist challenges to the very institutionalization of knowledge.  Feminist studies, like studies of performance imagine their ground in embodied actions performed, somehow, socially, breaking down disciplinary boundaries to create a ‘field’ of study regarded as ‘interdisciplinary’.  However, the term ‘post-disciplinary’, now in current usage, announces a different relationship to fields of study than the earlier term ‘interdisciplinary’ might connote.  ‘Interdisciplinary’ is a term that signals a sense of a unified field, produced through the historical convergence of subcultures, social structures, and training practices.  ‘Post-disciplinary’ retains nothing of the notion that a shared consciousness, or a shared objective, brings together a broad range of discrete studies.  Instead, it suggests that the organizing structures of disciplines themselves will not hold.  Only conditional conjunctions of social and intellectual forces exist, at which scholarship and performance may be produced.  (Sue-Ellen Case, “Feminism and Performance: A Post-Disciplinary Couple)


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: