Tanz und WahnSinn / Dance and ChoreoMania


table of contents

Abstracts and additional visual and audiovisual material on this website:

III. Schizoanalyse und Erotomanie/Schizoanalysis and Erotomania

Anna Furse
Making a Spectacle of Herself: Charcot’s Augustine and the Hysteric Dance.


Anna Furse

Making a Spectacle of Herself: Charcot’s Augustine and the hysteric dance


This article considers the hysteric diva Augustine’s “career” as Jean Martin Charcot’s star archetype in terms of the performativity and construction of her condition within the Salpêtrière hospital’s hysteric culture in the late 19th century in Paris. Augustine’s case notes, her condition and her performances are compared to the actor-dancer in general, to the ballet dancer and to the tarantata. If hysteria is protean, traversing many eras, it also expresses the prevalent cultural fashions in which the patient finds form for her own expression. Augustine, immersed in the visual culture of the Salpêtrière (photography, drawings, sculpture and the hysteric performance of her own peers) was, in many senses trained towards excelling in the (choreographed) spectacle of her own suffering. The article is informed by the author’s play Augustine (Big Hysteria), 1991, in which this case history was staged in a dramatic triangle presided over by Charcot, with his pupil Freud, who studied at the Salpêtrière in 1885 – ten years after Augustine’s six-year incarceration. This poetic licence provided opportunity for examining a 19th century template of the hysteric condition against the 20th century model: Freud pioneered understanding of the psychosomatic traits of hysteria, i.e. the body is lying, symptoms being the conversion of trauma into physical sign. If Charcot’s Salpêtrière was akin to a museum and a theatrical venue, then Augustine’s performances were a divertissement – a strategy for both attention-seeking and diverting attention from their root cause in sexual abuse.




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Herausgeberin und Herausgeber / editors
Zu den Autorinnen und Autoren /authors
Bildnachweis / list of illustrations


(c) 2011 Johannes Birringer & Josephine Fenger, editors

Leipzig: Henschel Verlag, 2011.paperback,€ 24.90, ISBN-10: 3894877103

This book project is supported by

Gesellschaft für Tanzforschung (GTF)

For the publisher's announcement, click here