Forbes, Cheryl. “Writing the Body: An Experiment in Material Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Review 19.1 (Fall 2000): 60-72.


In this article, Forbes looks to three factors of shape in movement (weight, space, and time) articulated by the Laban school of modern dance in order to theorize a rhetorical theory of the body organized around these factors. Combining both a more traditional analysis of Laban theories of movement and her own personal reflections–both from journal entries and addendums to these entries–on learning these principles in movement classes, Forbes reframes the terms direct/indirect space, light/strong weight, and quick/sustained time as rhetorical concepts. Following this reframing, she then applies these new rhetorical concepts to two texts: Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Andre Dubus’ “Dancing After Hours” in order to demonstrate what this dance-based rhetorical theory of the body can contribute to textual analysis. In these texts, she identifies an attempt to make sense of life by writing the body. Using Forbe’s rhetorical theory of the body to understand the way the body is written in these texts can help us understand the way writer’s attempt to negotiate their experiences.