In Agency and Embodiment
, Carrie Noland describes gesture as “a type of inscription, a parsing of the body into signifying and operational units”, considering it as a means to read and decode the human body. Through an analysis of James Joyce’s collection of Epiphanies, my paper will examine how gesture, as a mode of expression of the body, can be transcribed on the written page. Written and collected to record a “spiritual manifestation” shining through “in the vulgarity of speech or gesture, or in a memorable phase of the mind itself”, Joyce’s Epiphanies can be considered as the first step in his sustained attempt to develop an art of gesture-as-rhythm. These short pieces appear as the site in which the author seeks, through the medium of writing, to negotiate and redefine the boundaries of the physical human body. Moving towards a mapping of body and mind through the concept of rhythm, and pointing to a collaboration and mutual influence between interiority and exteriority, the Epiphanies open up a space for the reformulation of the relationship between the human body and its environment. Unpacking the ideas that sit at the heart of the concept of epiphany, the paper will shed light on how this particular mode of writing produces a rhythmic art of gesture, fixing and simultaneously liberating human and nonhuman bodies on the written page.
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