CORE MATERIAL

for Midterm Exam:

Core Material focuses on Keefer's breakdown of non-verbal communication. You should be able to analyse the image, posture, kinesiology, facial expressions, effort-shape movements, vocal timbre, pitch, resonance, sensory preferences and awareness, and positioning in time and space of any human body. Naturally these observations are not foolproof and each student has her own methodology but none of the following should be overlooked in an effort to understand mindbody dynamics. (Remember that all these observations are relative to the cultural background of the character. For example, Americans might blush with embarrassment while the Japanese might laugh.)

It is important to learn the following terminology for the midterm exam. There is a difference between non-verbal communication and non-verbal behavior. Is your character actually sending a message, unconscious or conscious, or she just expressing herself non-verbally? This field is broken down into the following studies:

Note the following myths about body language:"The body never lies. Eye contact tells the truth. Non-verbal is always natural. You can learn to read a person's non-verbal behavior like a book." If these statements were true, then we would have invented language only to lie! Non-verbal communication can act to INTENSIFY, DE-INTENSITY, MASK, OR NEUTRALIZE verbal communication.

Two kinesiologists, Birdwhistell and Paul Ekman, illustrate contrasting approaches to the study of non-verbal communication. Birdwhistell broke gestures and movements down into allokines, kines, kinemes, kinemorphemes etc. in an attempt to develop the same kind of meaning we have in linguistics. On the other hand, Paul Ekman said that non-verbal communication is always dependent on its context (time, space, culture, emotion etc.) and that no universal signs or symbols could be delineated. He broke it down into:


1)Emblems, like waving goodbye
2)Illustrators
3)Regulators
4)Affect Displays
5)Adaptors, unintentional gestures like čolding arms etc.

Keefer's breakdown of non-verbal communcation is as follows:

Non-verbal communication moves on a gradient from 1) intimacy, 2) immediacy, 3) neutrality, 4) verbal hostility, to 5) physical violence. Many organizations strive for more immediacy in communication through a positive and conformist approach to attractiveness, body shape and size, scent, hair, dress, emblems, illustrators, affect (always positive), regulators such as head nods. But many of us decrease immediacy consciously or unconsciously with adaptors such as folding arms or shifting away, incogruent posture or non-inclusive positioning. Immediacy is also dependent on appropriate proxemics, chronemics and kinesics, a pleasant environment and vocal resonance. Immediacy is often misinterpreted as intimacy is sexual harrassment cases. Sometimes because of crowding or psychological burn-out, we try to decrease immediacy by avoiding eye contact, shorter conversations, facial masking and extreme punctuality.

While the above definitions and categories should be learned and assimilated in order to analyse characters and their interactions, feel free to develop your own way of describing these scenes. For example, a writer might describe a fictional character with a poetic language that she makes up, and then create a scene that dramatizes the above concepts in her own way. Meanwhile, a therapist would just report accurately on her patient's non-verbal behavior or try to channel that behavior more constructively. Law enforcement officers might use any of these elements during interrogation or observation, knowing that like verbal language, people can use body language to lie, distort or mask their true feelings. The saying "The body does not lie" only works if our behavior is unconscious. Through social conditioning and intellectual choices, we have made much of our non-verbal behavior conscious.


Perform the eight basic effort actions on your own body and then imagine how your character would perform them:

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