Maxine Sheets-Johnstone

Movement and Mirror Neurons: A Challenging and Choice Conversation

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dancer, choreographer, and philosopher Maxine Sheets-Johnstone will lead a discussion over dinner on the primacy of movement in perception and our fundamental understanding of aliveness. A topic rarely acknowledged in the history of western philosophy and science, Sheets-Johnstone will examine how our understanding of space and time is fundamentally conditioned by our experience of movement.

Observer Effects invites thinkers to present their highly integrative work in dialogue with the fields of art and science. This lecture series takes its title from a popularized principle in physics that holds that the act of observation transforms the observed. Outside the natural sciences, the idea that the observer and the observed are linked in a web of reciprocal modification has been deeply influential in philosophy, aesthetics, psychology, and politics.

Emily Berçir Zimmerman

Maxine Sheets-Johnstone is an independent scholar affiliated with the University of Oregon’s Department of Philosophy where she taught periodically in the 1990s. She received a BA in French and comparative literature from the University of California at Berkeley, an MA in dance, and a PhD in dance and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. Her graduate work also includes an incomplete second doctorate in evolutionary biology. Her work includes The Phenomenology of Dance (University of Wisconsin, 1966), The Roots of Thinking (Temple, 1990), The Roots of Power: Animate Form and Gendered Bodies (Open Court, 1994), and The Roots of Morality (Penn State, 2008), as well as The Primacy of Movement (John Benjamins, 1999), Illuminating Dance: Philosophical Explorations (Bucknell, 1985), and The Corporeal Turn: An Interdisciplinary Reader (Imprint Academic, 2009). The Roots of Power was nominated by the late anthropologist and humanist Ashley Montagu for an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Putting Movement Into Your Life: A Beyond Fitness Primer was published in 2010, and an expanded second edition of The Primacy of Movement (first published in 1999) is forthcoming in June 2011. In Spring 2007 she was a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Durham University, UK, for her continuing research on xenophobia.

Maxine Sheets-Johnstone
Evelyn’s Cafe
May 4, 2011, 6PM

"What moves straightaway captures our attention; it is consistently at the focal point over what is not moving. This focal tethering to movement is no less first-nature to other creatures than it is to ourselves. We are all attuned to the animate over the inanimate; we are alive to movement from the start. Indeed, animation is at the core of every creature’s engagement with the world because it is in and through movement that the life of every creature—to borrow Husserl’s phrase from the first epigraph—'acquires reality.'"
— Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, The Primacy of Movement

EMPAC 2010-2011 presentations, residencies, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust), and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for support of artist commissions.

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
NEFA - New England Foundation for the Arts
State of the Arts - NYSCA