The Exquisite Corpse


The Exquisite Corpse

Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism's Parlor Game

Edited by Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Davis Schneiderman, and Tom Denlinger

Texts and Contexts Series

368 pages
28 photographs


December 2009


$55.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2009


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In a parlor game played by the Surrealist group—the foremost avant-gardists of their time—participants made their marks on the quadrants of a folded sheet of paper: a many-eyed head, a distorted torso, hands fondling swollen breasts, snarling reptilian-dog feet descending from an egg-shaped midsection. The “Exquisite Corpse,” as it was called, is still very much alive, having found artistic and critical expression from the days of the Surrealists down to our own. This method has been used in collective artistic protocols as the “rules of engagement” for experimental art, as a form of social interaction, and as an alternative mode of critical thinking.
This collection is the first to address both historical and contemporary works that employ the ritual of the cadavre exquis. It offers a unique overview of the efforts of scholars and artists to articulate new notions of crossing temporal and spatial boundaries and to experience in a new way the body’s mutability through visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic frames. Bringing together diverse writers from across disciplinary boundaries, this volume continues the cultural and methodological innovations that have unfolded since the first days of the “Exquisite Corpse.”

Author Bio

Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren is an associate professor of performance studies at the University of Washington, Bothell, and author of Hearing Difference: The Third Ear in Experimental, Deaf, and Multicultural Theater.
Davis Schneiderman is chair of the American Studies Program and an associate professor of English at Lake Forest College. He is the author of Multifesto: A Henri d’Mescan Reader.
Tom Denlinger is an adjunct professor in the Department of Art Media and Design at DePaul University in Chicago and the author of Territorial by Design.
Contributors: Tom Denlinger, Don Dingledine, Ray Ellenwood, Elizabeth Finch, Ken Friedman, Oliver Harris, Allen Hibbard, Kimberly Jannarone, Michael Joyce, Anne M. Kern, Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Susan Laxton, Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky, Craig Saper, Ingrid Schaffner, and Davis Schneiderman.


“This corpse is very living—and here, explored from many vantage points, performative, theoretical, art historical, and experiential. The variety of writing is as wide-ranging as the topic in all its excitement of exchange.”—Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York and author of Manifesto: A Century of Isms

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations  


Foreword: Totems without Taboos: The Exquisite Corpse

Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky


Introduction: The Algorhythms of the Exquisite Corpse

Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren, Davis Schneiderman, and Tom Denlinger


Part One: The Ludic

1. From One Exquisite Corpse (in)to Another: Influences and Transformations from Early to Late Surrealist Games  

Anne M. Kern

2. "This is Not a Drawing"   

Susan Laxton

3. Events and the Exquisite Corpse 

Ken Friedman

4. Cutting Up the Corpse     

Oliver Harris


Part Two: Artistic Collectivity and Literary Creation

5. The Corpse Encore/Apres Exquis  

Ingrid Schaffner (with a contribution by Elizabeth Finch)

6. The Exquisite Corpse Is Alive and Well and Living in Montréal 

Ray Ellenwood

7. An Anatomy of Alfred Chester's Exquisite Corpse   

Allen Hibbard

8. "together in their dis-harmony": Internet Collaboration and Le Cadavre Exquis   

Michael Joyce


Part Three: Academia

9. Academia's Exquisite Corpse: An Ethnography of the Application Process    

Craig Saper

10. Dead Men Don't Wear Pixels: The Online Exquisite Corpse and Process-based Institutional Critique   

Davis Schneiderman and Tom Denlinger


Part Four: Recomposing the Body

11. Exquisite Theater  

Kimberly Jannarone

12. Howling: The Exquisite Corpse, Butoh, and the Disarticulation of Trauma  

Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren

13. "You Make Such an Exquisite Corpse": Surrealist Collaboration and the Transcendence of Gender in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Don Dingledine


Works Cited