Roundtable Discussion of Nicole Svobodny's

Roundtable Discussion of Nicole Svobodny's "Nijinsky’s Feeling Mind: The Dancer Writes, The Writer Dances"


Nicole Svobodny, Senior Lecturer in Global Studies and Russian Literature and Culture

Tili Boon Cuillé, Professor of French and Comparative Literature

Elinor Harrison, Lecturer in Dance

Anca Parvulescu, Professor of English; Liselotte Dieckmann Professor of Comparative Literature

Moderator: Tabea Linhard, Director of Global Studies and Professor of Spanish


Nijinsky’s Feeling Mind: The Dancer Writes, The Writer Dances is the first in-depth literary study of Vaslav Nijinsky’s life-writing. Drawing on extensive archival research, Nicole Svobodny illuminates the modernist contexts from which the dancer-writer emerged at the end of World War I.


Through close textual analysis combined with intellectual biography, Svobodny puts the spotlight on Nijinsky as reader. She elucidates Nijinsky’s riffs on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche, equating these intertextual connections to “marking” a dance, whereby the dancer uses a reduction strategy situated between thinking and doing. By exploring the intersections of bodily movement and verbal language, this book addresses broader questions of how we sense and make sense of our worlds.


Kimerer LaMothe writes about Nijinsky’s Feeling Mind: “In Svobodny’s thorough account, Nijinsky’s notebooks appear as one face of a multimodal art project—involving dancing, writing, and drawing—whose interlocking pieces break down easy dichotomies between interiority and exteriority, thought and feeling, writing and dancing, and in so doing, enact (both performing and representing) the creative process as a key to healing a world ravaged by war.”