Circus as Multimodal Discourse : Performance, Meaning, and by Paul Bouissac

By Paul Bouissac

This quantity offers a thought of the circus as a mundane ritual and introduces a mode to investigate its performances as multimodal discourse. The book?s fifteen chapters disguise the diversity of circus specialties (magic, household and wild animal education, acrobatics, and clowning) and supply examples to teach how cultural that means is produced, prolonged and amplified through circus performances. Bouissac is without doubt one of the world?s Read more...

summary: This quantity offers a idea of the circus as an earthly ritual and introduces a mode to investigate its performances as multimodal discourse. The book?s fifteen chapters hide the variety of circus specialties (magic, household and wild animal education, acrobatics, and clowning) and supply examples to teach how cultural that means is produced, prolonged and amplified by means of circus performances. Bouissac is among the world?s best professionals on circus ethnography and semiotics and this paintings is grounded on learn carried out over a 50 yr span in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. It concludes w

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They do not raise questions about the wisdom of training an act which initially included five male elephants nor do they report the actual methods which had been used to train them. They chose to start the story with the arrival on the lot of the act which had been reduced to three animals for this contract, and with the peculiar circumstances which had prompted her to present only two of them in the ring because the other, Tonga, had started a dominance fight with Teak. They cautiously assign ultimate responsibility to inexperienced circus ring boys who had not properly flattened the rough carpet that had been placed in the ring and which, in the authors’ opinion, caused her to trip.

In all the circuses I visited in India during two decades of sporadic research, I witnessed this circus act, sometimes involving a single animal. The elephants are supposed to perform a puja, a ritual which all Hindus accomplish daily or occasionally when they visit a temple. The second time I witnessed this act, I realized that the trainer was discretely standing close to the ring, cueing the animals with verbal orders. Again and again, I observed the circus elephants’ puja. It was obviously appropriate for the audience to see a religious ritual accomplished by animals in a circus ring.

The third characteristic of rituals is that they are transformative. They perform a change of status, either permanent or temporary, in their participants. They unfold in time through stages. Their temporal structure is as marked as their spatial template with respect to the ordinary open-ended duration of individual and social life. The transformation can take the form of an emotional surge or simply the mere satisfaction of having met the requirements of a superior rule or the expectations of the social group to which one belongs.

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