Qwe’re performances of silence: Many ways to live “out loud”

Julia R. Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


When I first considered the role of silence in forming alliances, the idea of writing about silence was intriguing and freeing. As I pondered silence, my body overtook my usual controlled, linear, and deliberate writing process. It had something to say about silence that my mind couldn’t contain. The more I focused on thinking, the more belligerent my body became. I squirmed in my chair and my eyes glazed over as I stared at the computer screen. No matter how forcefully my academic mind struggled to identify the perfect theory or compelling moment that I might neatly insert into a linear essay, corporeality hounded me, pushing me into silence. Only through an unexpected blurring of boundaries brought on by the disruption of the Cartesian mind/body split, and after hours of sitting in the silence of my discomfort, did I realize that longings for silence and bringing silence into words is messy, confusing, contradictory. John R. Barrie (2008) states that “When all mental ruminations are at last exhausted, genuine silence emerges” (p. 10). So, after days and weeks of struggling through thoughts, I immersed myself in silence and turned to my body for the knowledge I sought. I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and turned my attention to my physical and emotional bodies to learn what they might show me about the silence that resides there.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSilence, Feminism, Power
Subtitle of host publicationReflections at the Edges of Sound
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781137002372
ISBN (Print)9781137002365
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


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