- More Books
Dancing to Learn: The Brain’s Cognition, Emotion, and Movement. By Judith Lynne Hanna. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015; 230 pp.; $60.00 cloth, $29.00 paper, e-book available.
In her new book, anthropologist Judith Lynne Hanna — author of To Dance Is Human (1979), The Audience-Performer Connection (1983), Dance Sex, and Gender (1988), and Naked Truth (2012) — continues her exploration of dance as part of the broad spectrum of performance. In Dancing to Learn, Hanna argues for dance as a powerful learning tool. Hanna’s book is both a scholarly study and a manifesto. Drawing on a wide range of recent neurological research, she advocates for dancing as not only or even mostly a physical, emotive art but a cognitive process that can help everyone from business people, surgeons, and lawyers to professors, athletes, and artists to think more clearly. Hanna writes about how the “brain choreographs” thought. “Learning to dance contributes to brain development, knowledge, mental and physical health, and fun. Integrally laced with other aspects of human life, dance both reflects and influences culture and society” (172).
— Richard Schechner [End Page 188]
Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race. By Sean Metzger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014; 316 pp.; illustrations. $85.00 cloth, $32.00 paper, e-book available.
Through three sartorial icons, Sean Metzger examines the construction and dissemination of Chinese identity within a transnational network that he identifies as the “Sino/American interface.” Metzger traces the queue (the long braid worn by men), the qipao (a traditional patterned dress), and the Mao suit over the past 150 years of performance history in order to “think anew about the epistemology and ontology of bodily performance, on both stage and screen” (6). Broken into three sections with a total of eight chapters, Metzger’s investigation ranges from 19th-century yellowface performance and the work of filmmaker D.W. Griffith to the plays of Edward Albee and Jackie Chan movies. Yet Metzger avoids creating a survey by focusing on particular case studies such as the costuming of the actresses Anna May Wong and Maggie Cheung to discuss the progression of the qipao from an item of racial fetishism to a signifier of economic colonization. Cultivating both a careful examination of cinematic technique and a broad theoretical understanding of global cultural exchange, Metzger does an especially good job of putting the cultural industries of China and North America into conversation.
Plowed Under: Food Policy Protests and Performance in New Deal America. By Ann Folino White. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015; 322 pp.; illustrations. $75.00 cloth, $30.00 paper, e-book available.
The 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) sparked widespread protests in the United States by groups as disparate as Missouri sharecroppers and Michigan housewives. Ann Folino White examines the performative nature of these protests through careful historical contextualization, solid theoretical grounding, and revelatory archival work. White demonstrates how the AAA protests embodied a national discourse on the nature of citizenship and the “right to food” (3). She sets the stage for her analysis by detailing the dominant narrative of the AAA, as supplied by the US government, through public exhibits at Chicago’s World’s Fair. The remaining chapters reveal the subversion of that...