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The body as a form of representation



Bodies as Representation The Body as a Form of Representation H1 The Body as a Form of Representation H2 Introduction This paper arises from a wish to explore the connections between the learning and teaching of literacy practices and the learning and teaching of drama in schools. Drama is a relatively new subject in the school curriculum which has grown in popularity over the last twenty years, particularly in the English-speaking world. The predominant mode of teaching and learning is through improvisation (in contrast to the study and performance of published theatrical works, for instance) whereby the students are encouraged to create dramatic texts from resources that are held within them as individuals, and between them as members of social groups. The dramatic texts constructed in drama classrooms are constituted by the bodies of the actors, and so the particular interest here is in bodies — the individual and social bodies of school students who select particular scenes and adopt different parts in improvised drama. The body is viewed here as a form of representation. At the level of the individual, the body is seen as a signifying unit, a ‘non-lettered’ form of communication. But, most importantly, this view of the body emphasises that signifying aspects of the body — sets of gestures, postures and patterns of behaviour — are formed, shaped and filled with meaning in social and cultural contexts. This is a departure from conventional and current approaches to drama in education. Although it is not the main intention to argue a detailed critique of these approaches in this paper, it is worth briefly outlining their significant features in order to mark out the differences in perspective from the line of argument adopted here. There are, broadly speaking, two main strands of development in the tradition of theoretical approaches to drama in education. The first

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