Cover for WAGNER: Adversaries of Dance: From the Puritans to the Present

Adversaries of Dance

From the Puritans to the Present

Whether in the private parlor, public hall, commercial "dance palace," or sleazy dive, dance has long been opposed by those who viewed it as immoral--more precisely as being a danger to the purity of those who practiced it, particularly women. In Adversaries of Dance, Ann Wagner presents a major study of opposition to dance over a period of four centuries in what is now the United States.

Wagner bases her work on the thesis that the tradition of opposition to dance "derived from white, male, Protestant clergy and evangelists who argued from a narrow and selective interpretation of biblical passages," and that the opposition thrived when denominational dogma held greater power over people's lives and when women's social roles were strictly limited.

Central to Wagner's work, which will be welcomed by scholars of both religion and dance, are issues of gender, race, and socioeconomic status.

"There are no other works that even begin to approach this definitive accomplishment." -- Amanda Porterfield, author of Female Piety in Puritan New England

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