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Demi-Mondes and Dance Worlds

Semester and Year FA 2015
Course Number ELEC-GG2770
Section 001
Instructor Julie Malnig
Days T
Time 9:30 AM - 12:15 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level G


Same as PERF-GT- 2311. Team-taught with Prof. Deborah Kapchan (from Tisch).


Worlds of social dance often find their genesis among artists, rebels, non-conformists, and others who are deliberately or accidently marginal to mainstream capitalist culture. From the bordellos of Buenos Aires, where tango was born, to the honky-tonks of Nashville, to the jazz clubs of New Orleans and New York, to say nothing of contemporary raves, social dance’s roots may be found in transgressive behavior. Dancers in these scenes are often referred to as obsessed, addicted, and out of control. But whose control? In this course we examine the relation of the moving body to music and transgression, analyzing the way aesthetic styles create demimondes and subcultures that transform gender relations and public affect writ large. Beginning with theories of the aesthetic that explain the power of the body in cultural expression, we move on to examine dance worlds in their historical and ethnographic context, paying close attention to the politics of the body and its influence on changing parameters of social permissibility. We will also explore dancers’ efforts to test behaviors and assert identities outside the confines of the ordered, everyday world and consider what qualities are lost or gained when these dances become adopted for mainstream consumption. We will read works by Pierre Bourdieu, Marcel Mauss, Jacques Ranciere, Jose Munoz, Jane Desmond, Sarah Thornton, Fiona Buckland, Robert Farris Thompson, Julie Taylor, Juliet McMains, Frances Aparicio, Marta Savigliano, Barbara Browning, and Tricia Rose, among others.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Graduate Electives (ELEC-GG)