Publication details [#12875]

Davis, Charles. 1998. Reading the Ventriloquist's Lips: The Performance Genre behind the Metaphor. 24 pp.
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This paper presents a history of various ventriloquist performances in order to explore how “identity is signified by the voice, and how the source of a voice is signified”. This investigation seeks to explain the reasons why ‘ventriloquism’ has become a dead metaphor within critical theory and identity politics studies, where the term stands for any instance of speaking for or through a represented Other. The author claims that the primary ventriloquist theatrical and/or puppet practices pose challenging analytical problems for performance theory and semiotics, where currently the term is used as an analogy for any kind of representation. Overall, this paper is a semiotic study that addresses the issue of ‘voice’ and of the construction of multiple voices within one person, suggesting that “ventriloquist performance foregrounds “voice” not as individual expression, idiolect, or linguistic “point of view,” but as a signification of an identity that is always under construction in a give-and-take dialogue”.