Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226548043 Published May 2018
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226547992 Published May 2018
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Strange Footing

Poetic Form and Dance in the Late Middle Ages

Seeta Chaganti

Strange Footing

Seeta Chaganti

304 pages | 10 color plates, 25 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $35.00 ISBN: 9780226548043 Published May 2018
Cloth $105.00 ISBN: 9780226547992 Published May 2018
E-book $10.00 to $35.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226548180 Published May 2018
For premodern audiences, poetic form did not exist solely as meter, stanzas, or rhyme scheme. Rather, the form of a poem emerged as an experience, one generated when an audience immersed in a culture of dance encountered a poetic text.

Exploring the complex relationship between medieval dance and medieval poetry, Strange Footing argues that the intersection of texts and dance produced an experience of poetic form based in disorientation, asymmetry, and even misstep. Medieval dance guided audiences to approach poetry not in terms of the body’s regular marking of time and space, but rather in the irregular and surprising forces of virtual motion around, ahead of, and behind the dancing body. Reading medieval poems through artworks, paintings, and sculptures depicting dance, Seeta Chaganti illuminates texts that have long eluded our full understanding, inviting us to inhabit their strange footings askew of conventional space and time.

Strange Footing deploys the motion of dance to change how we read medieval poetry, generating a new theory of poetic form for medieval studies and beyond.

List of Illustrations

Part One

1. “Vanysshed Was this Daunce”: Reenactment, Experience, Virtuality
2. Bonaventure and a Strumpet: A Theory of Medieval Poetic Form

Part Two

3. “A Certain Slant of Light”: Reenacting Danse macabre as Dance
4. “Dredful Fotyng”: Reenacting Danse macabre’s Poetic Form

Part Three

5. The Carole’s Virtual Circles
6. Dance on the Surface, Dance in the Depths: Reenacting Form in the Middle English Carol

Conclusion: Dance in the Margins, Dance in the Center


Review Quotes
Katharine Breen, Northwestern University
“Seeta Chaganti’s Strange Footing: Poetic Form and Dance in the Late Middle Ages is interdisciplinary in the most powerful sense of the term. Chaganti is fully conversant with the theory and practice of both dance criticism and medieval literary studies, and works at the intersection of the two fields to produce a genuinely original model of poetic form illuminated by danced virtuality.”
Ardis Butterfield, Yale University
“With great originality, Chaganti’s luminous book probes the experience of medieval poetic form through dance. Her sensitive, felt understanding of how the dancing body creates a virtual shape borne out of movement enables her to develop a richly multifaceted approach to medieval poetry: to the danse macabre, carols, and dance songs from many languages and vernacular cultures. In her skillful and imaginative readings, dance becomes a newly powerful means by which contemporary audiences can experience the living perceptual practices of the past.”
Peter W. Travis, Dartmouth College
“Bringing together discourses and art forms normally isolated one from the other—namely medieval dance, medieval poetry, medieval and modern art, and contemporary theory—Strange Footing marks out an exciting new field of intergeneric studies. A prolific scholar and an astonishingly original thinker, Chaganti writes with admirable insight and unforgettable, ‘terpsichorean’ grace.”
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