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Evolution, Cognition, and Performance

$29.99 (C)

  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107463455

$ 29.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Culture and cognition work together dynamically every time a spectator interprets meaning during a performance. In this study, Bruce McConachie examines the biocultural basis of all performance, from its origins and the cognitive processes that facilitate it, to what keeps us coming back for more. To effect this major reorientation, McConachie works within the scientific paradigm of enaction, which explains all human activities, including performances, as the interactions of mental, bodily, and ecological networks. He goes on to use our biocultural proclivity for altruism, as revealed in performance, to explore our species' gradual ethical progress on such matters as the changing norms of religious sacrifice, slavery, and LGBT rights. Along the way, the book engages with a wide range of performances, including Richard Pryor's stand-up, the film Titanic, aerialist performances, American football, and the stage and film versions of A Streetcar Named Desire.

    • Provides a new approach to performance studies that bases scholarly assertions on empirical evidence
    • Gives a coherent, encompassing orientation to all performances, including music, sports, the circus, and stand-up comedy
    • Offers a progressive ethics relevant to a wide range of current concerns, such as racism, all forms of inequality, and our global ecological crisis
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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107463455
    • length: 227 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: toward biocultural performance studies
    1. Enaction, evolution, and performance
    2. Rituals, image schemas, and cultural-cognitive ecosystems
    3. Sociality, emotions, and empathy
    4. The dynamics of making meanings
    5. A Deweyan ethics for performance studies.

  • Author

    Bruce McConachie, University of Pittsburgh
    Bruce McConachie is a Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Pittsburgh. A past President of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), he has also held visiting professorships at Northwestern University, the University of Warsaw, Helsinki University and Queen's University Belfast. His publications include Performance and Cognition: Theatre Studies and the Cognitive Turn (with Elizabeth Hart, 2006), Engaging Audiences: A Cognitive Approach to Spectating in the Theatre (2008) and Theatre and Mind (2013). He is the recipient of the Barnard Hewitt Award in Theatre History and the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Theatre Research.

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