The Critics on Sara K. Schneider's
Vital Mummies: Performance Design for the Show-Window Mannequin
Yale University Press

Vital Mummies cover"Mannequins are so much a part of our culture that sometimes we might accept them as near-human or as just cardboard silhouettes and not think about the ramifications of what they are really doing in the store-windows. Schneider has thought about what they are doing, and what they are doing is important and complex. She examines the various elements of culture they represent: theater, art, salesmanship, and she reads the audience--you and me as we stand and gawk at the figures before us. She concentrates on the 70s because that was the period when window designers perceived themselves as directors, their mannequins as actors and the people on the streets as audience. This was the time, in other words, when mannequin display became street theater, with groups of the characters enacting real life scenes. She examines many questions. She wonders why mannequins are generally female, are usually designed and dressed by men and viewed by women. She also examines the fact that men mannequins, increasingly popular, are more often headless than female ones are. We know the answers to many of these questions. Men are headless because our male-dominated society is self-conscious about having men's bodies voyeured, while women's bodies, we think, were built to be gawked at. But by both men and women? Though Schneider considers many aspects of this complex aspect of culture, she does not examine the doll-like quality of mannequins, the fact that they are overgrown Barbie dolls and strengthen our lives by being inferior to us and therefore subject to our control. The extended world that Schneider so competently examines is of great importance and interest to us. So is her book."

—Michael Schoenecke, Texas Tech University

"This book tells the story of shop-window mannequins from their beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century till the present.

The author fascinates with this interesting expedition. Numerous anecdotes from the legends of display such as Gene Moore and from mannequin manufacturers such as Adel Rootstein make for a colorful read. Unfortunately, this book is the first of its kind to deal with mannequins, even though they stand as much as mirrors of trends as do Barbie dolls, about which one can find hundreds of books (despite their coming along much later).

The only drawback of this book, which is why I've given it only four stars, is that the layout of the photos might have been more luxurious, as it would have been beautiful to have some of the photos printed in color. Nevertheless, it is a very good book, well worth reading, and produced with highest quality."

—Amazon-Germany reader

“A most valuable contribution to the ethnographic literature on late capitalist expression and postmodernity. Professor Schneider has captured the fine details of the convergence of eros and thanatos in the department store window display. It is theoretically engaging without being theoretically presumptuous. And it is beautifully written, reflecting perhaps the rigorous presentational standards of her subject—not a word is wasted.”

—Dean MacCannell, author of The Tourist:  A New Theory
of the Leisure Class and Empty Meeting Grounds


“Happily avoids the kind of impermeable goobledygook that envelops so much that is written about contemporary culture. …a unique intellectual contribution.”          

—Stuart Ewen, author of All Consuming Images:
The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture


What others have said about Sara K. Schneider's
Concert Song as Seen: Kinesthetic Aspects of Musical Interpretation

Pendragon Press

“Erudite”  — New York Native

“Overdue” — Choice


Concert Song cover"The substantive value of a performer's presence in co-creating a musical art work is examined in Schneider's insightful new book. Recital singing is placed within the history of solo performance since the baroque period (especially with reference to rhetorical style and eighteenth-century acting technique). A first-hand look at modern conservatory training highlights the pedagogical styles (and their effects on learning) of Antonia Lavane (Mannes College of Music), Cynthia Hoffman (Manhattan School of Music), and Paul Sperry (Juilliard School). The solutions that singers have found, or in the case of performers deconstructing the song tradition, have "created" to address the problem of a musically determined gesture, will surely benefit the professional singer, the teacher, and the student of voice."

— Lotte Lehmann Foundation

“I am working on my Ph.D. degree at the Norwegian Academy of Music, halfway through the project. I am a classical singer and my project is about concert singers’ performance/communication skills. I want to study and concretise many of the different communication opportunities for a singer, both in the verbalcommunication, such as the different choices concerning interpretation, and non-verbal communication, such as gestures, posture, mimics, and occulesics.

I have been searching for literature for my work for a long time, and have found many interesting books for instance about rhetoric, books such as Cone, The Composers Voice, Gadamer, Truth and Method, Barthes, Emmons, Sonntag and many others. I happened to find your book Concert Song as Seen in my professor’s bookshelf yesterday, and this book is probably ‘the missing link’ in my search for relevant literature.”

— Kristin Kjølberg, Ph.D. candidate, Norwegian Academy of Music 

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