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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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11 Elements of a Free Style: Subcultural Eloquence, Performance Affects, and the Transversality of Skateboarding (exemplified by Hesh)

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Abstract: Whereas skateboard culture has been a leader in extreme action sports subcultures with regard to types of tricks performed, fashion, and music, heavily influencing trends in BMX, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding, there is a simplicity to skateboarding that has remained consistent and is arguably its essence. This is both aesthetic and ideological, but also spiritual. Skateboarding is about intensive-extensive connectivity, immersion, and transcendence. This is the same for the subsets of BMX, skiing, and snowboarding that are considered “free,” as in “freestyle” and “freeride.” In the language of the combined socio-cognitive theory, performance aesthetics, and critical methodology, what I call “transversal poetics,” that inform this analysis, skateboarding culture is largely about moving transversally across and outside of established parameters for thinking, feeling, and doing, defying subjective and official territories, surpassing the limits of mind-body capacities. The subculture of skaters, known as “heshers,” exemplify this transversal aspect to skateboarding culture insofar as their performances characteristically noodle on the physical brink of transversality or exceed it—consistently eloquent and almost “out-of-control”: their adherence to the codes of hesh—the hesher style—is not itself transversal, yet transversality is, characteristically, their most powerful emergent property.

Keywords: skateboarding, hesh, transversality, transversal poetics, affect, style, extreme sports, California, subjectivity

Expressly Hesh

It is 9:30 a.m. when I arrive at the Volcom Skatepark in the coastal city of Costa Mesa, California, a mecca for skateboard culture, as well as surf and BMX cultures. There are already...

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