Dance Studies, Gender and the Question of History – Clio. Women, Gender, History – article

Dance Studies, Gender and the Question of History

Elizabeth Claire | Clio. Women, Gender, History


This article sketches out developments in mainly English language scholarship from the past twenty years that apply the critical tools of gender analysis to the study of dance. The exercise aims first to highlight the principal perspectives brought forward in this interdisciplinary debate, at once deeply influenced by theories of performance and of subaltern studies; and second, to underscore how theoretical trends in scholarship served to isolate and in some respects disqualify the pertinence of historical approaches to dance. Whereas the study of dance in the social sciences remains a still-emergent research field in France, a recent generation of French scholarship has engaged explicitly with the tools and methods of cultural history, including a dialogue with the history of gender. This essay proposes to unite these divergent historiographies (Anglophone and French dance scholarship), by inviting scholars from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond to engage in a critical, situated, and connected history of dance practices as a means to better understand the embodied history of gender and dancing’s role in that history.


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