This week on performing history and the performativity that is involved in historical films, both low-budget and hollywood, made me think about how bodies take centre stage in history and how we view bodies in historical narratives. In the first chapter of Rosenstone’s book, I felt it was interesting that he discusses the ways in which films tended to highlight the individual rather than impersonal processes that are often the case with written history. This being said, he does go on to argue that written histories are “verbal fictions,” thus destabilizing the performance of history both on and off the screen. I feel it worthwhile to discuss the individual or “planned characters” who often tell stories through non-verbal language–such as the subtlety of shifting eyes of suspicion or the half-bitten lip of passion. If performativity studies has taught us anything this week, it is that performance–that is both the performance in telling the historical narrative, writing it down, or acting it out–is a fundamental component to establishing the empathetic qualities that exist within the “lived experience.” In what ways might the displayed body in film become an asset to interpreting historical narratives? Or is it detrimental to understanding how ideals of the past were conceived and performed?
I ask this because the performing body is one that take centre stage in both film and histories of the body. In doing so, film, histories of the body, and performativity studies demonstrate the ways in which the body is inscribed with narratives (the same narratives we discussed the first week back from the winter break) while also producing and reinforcing identity(ies). (hint hint).