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Humanities 2018, 7(4), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040111

Nordic Modernists in the Circus. On the Aesthetic Reflection of a Transcultural Institution

Institut für Nordische Philologie Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1, 85304 München, Germany
Received: 1 October 2018 / Revised: 31 October 2018 / Accepted: 31 October 2018 / Published: 6 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nordic and European Modernisms)
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Abstract

Around 1900 the circus was not only an important and highly popular cultural phenomenon all over Europe, but also an inspiration to writers and artists at the onset of Modernism. As an intrinsically intermedial form with international performers, it can be seen as an expression of certain important characteristics of modern life like innovation, mobility, dynamics, speed and vigor. Its displays of color and excitement, of bodies in motion and often provocative gender relations were experienced by authors as a challenge to create new aesthetic forms. However, the circus does not only figure prominently in well-known works by Kafka and Thomas Mann and paintings by Degas, Macke or Leger, it is also thematized in texts by Scandinavian authors. When writers like Henrik Ibsen, Herman Bang, Ola Hansson and Johannes V. Jensen referred to the circus in their works, they represented it as an experience of modernity and addressed themes like alterity, mobility, voyeurism, new gender relations and ambivalent emotions. As a self-reflexive sign, the circus even served to represent the fragile status of art in modernity and thus made an important contribution to the development of Modernism. View Full-Text
Keywords: Scandinavian modernism; cross-fertilization; circus; meta-cultural code; modernist aesthetics Scandinavian modernism; cross-fertilization; circus; meta-cultural code; modernist aesthetics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Heitmann, A. Nordic Modernists in the Circus. On the Aesthetic Reflection of a Transcultural Institution. Humanities 2018, 7, 111.

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