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Salomé: The Modern Body

Tuesday 19 May 2015, 5.00PM to 6.30pm

A Centre for Modern Studies postgraduate forum seminar

  • Megan Girdwood: ‘The dancer is not a woman who dances’: The Performing Body in Oscar Wilde’s Salomé
  • Charlotte Armstrong: The Evolution of Operatic Madness: 19th Century Naturalist Perspectives in Strauss' Salome

Megan Girdwood’s paper will explore how Oscar Wilde’s Salomé negotiates with issues of performance. Through taking a close look at the relationship between the body and its textual rendering, it will offer an interpretation of Wilde’s female dancer as the model for a new kind of performance, built around the intersections between dance and a proto-modernist cinematic imagination. Developing recent critiques of literary modernism’s debt to other art forms and performance spaces (Jones 2013; Wall-Romana 2013), this paper will conclude by looking at the ramifications of Wilde’s text for versions of the Salomé narrative beyond the symbolist theatre.

Charlotte Armstrong's paper addresses the enigmatic coupling of opera and the medical sciences during the 19th and early 20th centuries, focussing specifically on the Naturalist movement and its reflection within Richard Strauss’ Salome. Using Darwinian theories of evolution and natural selection as a starting point, this study seeks to understand the translation of Naturalist concepts into ideas about women and madness within the turbulent ideological climate of Strauss’ Germany at the turn of the 20th century.


Location: BS/008, Berrick Saul Building