The amateur body in dance and science

C-DaRE Invites… Heather Houser

18 April 2024 14:00 – 15:30 GMT Online
Register here: to get the Zoom link to join.

Not all of us can say we’ve played the tuba or gone deep-sea diving, but almost all of us can say we’ve danced. Booties shaking as toddlers, heads bopping or toes tapping seated in a chair, torsos undulating at a club. We dance. But to declare, “I’m a dancer,” suggests deep training, expertise, professionalism, even virtuosity. What is the amateur body in dance? What does it feel like, in movement? How does it scramble associations with the expert and the professional? I approach these questions as a lifelong recreational dancer who sometimes leaves the studio but always returns. I also approach them as a science studies scholar who attends to how scientific and embodied epistemologies interact. In this conversation, Heather Houser talks with Simon Ellis about the gaps and convergences between amateurism and expertise, between the body in dance and the body in science, and the epistemological priority accorded to each.

Heather Houser writes about science, the environment, and contemporary culture. She’s danced, on and off, since she was 4 years old and is a proud amateur. Her books are Infowhelm: Environmental Art and Literature in an Age of Data (2020) and Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect (2014). She is Mody C. Boatright Regents Professor in American and English Literature at The University of Texas at Austin, and she’s a 2023-24 Mellon New Directions Fellow.

Image: Dance and Somatic Practices Conference 2023 photo by Christian Kipp