Review Of "Adversaries Of Dance: From The Puritans To The Present" By A. Wagner

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Wagner (St. Olaf College) investigates the antidance sentiment in American Protestantism from the 17th century through the present. Drawing on her perspective as a teacher of both dance history and ballroom dance and on more than a decade of research, the author charts the resistance to dance from white, male, Protestant clergy/evangelists. She is concerned principally with opposition to social dance, although she mentions folk and stage dancing. The study emphasizes dance manuals and etiquette books as primary sources regarding the dances themselves. By studying documents in selected seminary, college, and university libraries, Wagner assesses antidance literature produced by a broad spectrum of Protestant denominations. Although the book is organized chronologically, each chapter considers how race, gender, economics, and context impact the attitudes of a period. Particularly useful are two concluding chapters, one of which summarizes over time and the other analyzes opponents collectively in relation to morality and spiritual growth. Extensive endnotes and three appendixes provide further references for future researchers. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars in the fields of dance, religion, and gender studies.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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