Dada as Text, Thought and Theory

Stephen Forcer

Research Monographs in French Studies 39


22 July 2015  •  172pp

ISBN: 978-1-907975-83-7 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


The Dada movement, revered as perhaps the purest form of cultural subversion and provocation in 20th-century Europe, has been a victim of the readiness with which cultural historians have swallowed its own propaganda. Based on extensive close analysis of French-language Dada work in its original form, and offering English translations throughout, this major reappraisal looks at a broad range of media and topics – including poetry, film, philosophy, and quantum physics – in order to get beyond Dada’s typecasting as avant-garde anti-hero. Work by women writers and other marginalized figures combines with that of canonical Dadaists to present Dada in a radically new set of guises: poetic and textually subtle; intellectually and philosophically meaningful; peaceable and quasi-Buddhist; and, perhaps most uncomfortably of all, conformist and reactionary.

Stephen Forcer is Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Birmingham.

Dada as Text, Thought and Theory was short-listed for the Gapper Prize 2016, awarded by the Society for French Studies to the best monograph of its year in the field of French studies by a scholar in the UK or Ireland.


  • ‘Stephen Forcer’s original, timely and impeccably researched monograph is an adventurous and therefore provocative attempt to combine close readings of verbal and visual Dada texts with an imaginative analytical conspectus of the ‘rich inner life’ of the Paris Lodge... Dada wisdom is finally reaching a large audience, both inside and outside universities, during a dürtiger Zeit when that unconventional commodity is becoming more behovely than ever.’ — Richard Sheppard, Journal of European Studies 46.1, 74-75
  • ‘This cogent and wide-ranging study... challenges the reader to reassess Dada as a far from simplistic phenomenon exerting a radical influence on contemporary culture.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 52.2, 2016, 235
  • ‘A perceptive reappraisal of the movement... Forcer’s study uncovers convincingly, through a close and sensitive study of diverse intersections, the semantic plurality and allusive density of Dada texts; and thus confirms his conclusion that, even when meaning appears to collapse, it ‘inevitably re-emerges, playfully and gloriously’.’ — Elza Adamowicz, Modern Language Review 111.4, October 2016, 1139-40 (full text online)
  • ‘This is a lively, incisive, and thought-provoking book substantially based on original archive work, which injects new and proliferating life into the study of Dada... With excellent English translations of quotations throughout, and well-chosen monochrome illustrations, the book is fully accessible to non-francophone readers and is an absolute must for anyone with a serious interest in Dada.’ — Andrew Rothwell, French Studies 71.1, Winter 2017, 133-34

Bibliography entry:

Forcer, Stephen, Dada as Text, Thought and Theory, Research Monographs in French Studies, 39 (Legenda, 2015)

First footnote reference: 35 Stephen Forcer, Dada as Text, Thought and Theory, Research Monographs in French Studies, 39 (Legenda, 2015), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Forcer, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Forcer, Stephen. 2015. Dada as Text, Thought and Theory, Research Monographs in French Studies, 39 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Forcer 2015: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Forcer 2015: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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