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Liminal Borderlands in Irish Literature and Culture

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Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Elin Holmsten

Liminality, if interpreted as a concern with borders and states of in-betweenness, is a widespread theme in Irish literature and culture, which is perhaps not surprising considering the colonial and postcolonial background of Ireland. The liminal, from the Latin word limen, meaning «a threshold», can be broadly defined as a transitional place of becoming. It is a borderland state of ambiguity and indeterminacy, leading those who participate in the process to new perspectives and possibilities.
This collection of essays examines the theme of liminality in Irish literature and culture against the philosophical discourse of modernity and focuses on representations of liminality in contemporary Irish literature, art and film in a variety of contexts. The book is divided into four sections. The first part deals with theoretical aspects of liminal states. Other sections focus on liminal narratives and explore drama as liminal rites of passage, while the last part examines transformative spaces in contemporary Irish women’s poetry.

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5 Movement as Text, Text as Movement: The Choreographic Writing of Samuel Beckett Lotta Palmerstierna Einarsson 87

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5 Movement as Text, Text as Movement: The Choreographic Writing of Samuel Beckett Lotta Palmstierna Einarsson Beckett does not write about something, […] he writes the thing itself ! Billie Whitelaw, Beckett in Performance Billie Whitelaw’s words exemplify an important aspect of Beckett’s dramatic work, namely that there is an act of creation immanent in the written word of Beckett’s drama that constitutes the text so that it really does what it is. Beckett writes “it,” not about “it,” and in doing so he writes on the limit of reality. Thus many performances rely on the presenceing of words and not on interpretation on behalf of the actor, or even the director for that matter. In fact Beckett did not seem to want actors to act at all. Instead he wanted to reduce the actors’ colourful portrayals of characters in a play in order to take away psychological remnants of interpretations so as to let the actual physical activities on stage stand on their own. In order to do this he emphasized great exactitude of physical movement. The Beckettian theatre therefore expands the notion of text so as also to incorporate movement. In doing so Beckett crosses the bound- ary between text and movement, entering a liminal space, in-between text and performance, where the actual performance is the final text.1 1 The concept of liminality will be used to describe “transitional conditions.” However, even such conditions are conditions per se and therefore static. Liminality there- fore is not relational, nor does it...

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