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Choreographing CopyrightRace, Gender, and Intellectual Property Rights in American Dance$
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Anthea Kraut

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199360369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199360369.001.0001

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White Womanhood and Early Campaigns for Choreographic Copyright

White Womanhood and Early Campaigns for Choreographic Copyright

(p.43) 1 White Womanhood and Early Campaigns for Choreographic Copyright
Choreographing Copyright

Anthea Kraut

Oxford University Press

This chapter recounts Loïe Fuller’s pursuit of intellectual property rights in the late nineteenth century. Focusing on the 1892 case Fuller v. Bemis, it approaches Fuller’s lawsuit as a gendered struggle to attain proprietary rights in whiteness. First situating Fuller’s practice in the context of the patriarchal economy that governed the late nineteenth-century theater, the chapter then examines the lineage of her Serpentine Dance, including the Asian Indian dance sources to which it was indebted. It also shows how the “theft” of her Serpentine Dance occasioned a crisis of subjecthood for Fuller, and how her assertion of copyright was an attempt to (re)establish herself as a property-holding subject. The chapter ends by considering the copyright bids of two dancers who followed in Fuller’s wake, Ida Fuller and Ruth St. Denis, as well as the counter-claims of one of St. Denis’s South Asian dancers, Mohammed Ismail.

Keywords:   white womanhood, Loïe Fuller, Serpentine Dance, Fuller v. Bemis, Ruth St. Denis, Ida Fuller, Mohammed Ismail

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