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Subversive Uses of Nerve Psychology in Dada and Surrealism
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Subversive Uses of Nerve Psychology in Dada and Surrealism (Hardback)

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Subversive Uses of Nerve Psychology in Dada and Surrealism presents wholly innovative research that significantly reinterprets the Dada and Surrealist movements. Peter Mowris refutes the long-held belief that artists in the Dada and Surrealist movements were interested only in psychoanalysis, and considers the response by artists to nerve psychology, which held that changes in the nervous system formed the bases of consciousness. Since the 1880s, nerve or physiological psychology had a considerable presence in connected movements of social regeneration and rhythmic motion including Emile Jaques-Dalcroze's eurhythmics and the modern dance of Rudolf Laban. In ZA1/4rich, Dada artists including Hugo Ball, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Tristan Tzara, and Richard Huelsenbeck challenged such regenerationist ambitions, and protested the ongoing war with radical politics. These ideas would also shape Tzara's role in the chaotic birth of Surrealism. While this book does not challenge Freud's influence, it enriches the historical context by expanding the meaning of 'psychology' in the arguments of Tzara, Francis Picabia, and Andre Breton. Based on extensive archival research at the Bibliotheque Nationale and the Bibliotheque litteraire Jacques Doucet archive in Paris, Mowris challenges the long-held belief that avant-garde interest in psychology began with Freud. Further, this study enriches the linkage of Dada and Surrealism to modern dance and performance by establishing a shared intellectual source that has fallen into obscurity.

Peter Mowris is an independent scholar and editor of The Picasso Project, San Francisco, CA, USA.

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