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Sensational Knowledge
Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance
Tomie Hahn


2007 • 224 pp. 8 illus. 6 figs. 6 x 9"
Music / Dance / Asian Studies

$26.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6835-9

Includes DVD.

“This book is clear, well-organized, and written in a quietly diligent voice Hahn evokes her teachers and fellow students with clarity and obvious respect. She deftly interweaves personal anecdote... [continued in Reviews below]”—SanSan Kwan, Dance Research Journal

A compelling ethnography of traditional dance and bodily knowledge

How do music and dance reveal the ways in which a community interacts with the world? How are the senses used in communicating cultural knowledge? In Sensational Knowledge, ethnomusicologist and dancer Tomie Hahn uncovers the process and nuances of learning nihon buyo, a traditional Japanese dance form. She uses case studies of dancers at all levels, as well as her own firsthand experiences, to investigate the complex language of bodies, especially across cultural divides. Paying particular attention to the effect of body-to-body transmission, and how culturally constructed processes of transmission influence our sense of self, Hahn argues that the senses facilitate the construction of “boundaries of existence” that define our physical and social worlds. In this flowing and personal text, Hahn reveals the ways in which culture shapes our attendance to various sensoria, and how our interpretation of sensory information shapes our individual realities. An included DVD provides visual examples.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“This book is clear, well-organized, and written in a quietly diligent voice Hahn evokes her teachers and fellow students with clarity and obvious respect. She deftly interweaves personal anecdote, examples of lessons observed during fieldwork, socio-historical context, ethnographic theory, and dance theory.”—SanSan Kwan, Dance Research Journal

Sensational Knowledge is a deft example of contemporary self-reflexive ethnography combining dance and performance studies amongst others notably Asian philosophy and ethnomusicology.” —Jonathan Zilberg, Leonardo Reviews

“Tomie Hahn has produced an extraordinary study of the complex ways in which nihon buyô, a form of traditional Japanese dance, is transmitted and translated between bodies. Hahn mines her lifelong experience as a dancer in the Tachibana school as a means of exploring how culture comes to be embodied, refigured, and passed on through this art form. Her thoughtful analyses build from this lived experience as the ground upon which the cogent, meticulous, narrations that she develops can inform the reader most clearly, and signify with the utmost richness and intensity.”—Reginald Jackson, Journal of Asian Studies

Sensational Knowledge is essential reading for dance scholars and for performers studying Japanese art forms and their transmission; it is equally valuable for those interested in how culture is embodied through movement. … Simply put, Hahn’s Sensational Knowledge is exquisite.”—Marta Robertson, Dance Chronicle

“Hahn’s focus on the body and somatic knowledge opens up the world of Japanese dance in utterly new ways. The poetry of her writing highlights the dynamic links between sensual experience and ethnographic practice.”—Deborah Wong, author of Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

“As the Western scholarly literature on Japanese arts continues to burgeon, Tomie Hahn's reflexive approach to transmission is both significant and needed. She offers a window into an important means of communicating culture.”—Bonnie Wade, professor of music, University of California at Berkeley

Author Photo

TOMIE HAHN is an associate professor in the department of the arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A performer and student of Japanese dance since the age of four, she has been awarded natori— the professional stage title of Samie Tachibana—from the Tachibana School in Tokyo.

Wed, 17 Oct 2018 11:32:40 -0500