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Popular Dance and American Cultural Identity

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1675
Section 001
Instructor Julie Malnig
Days M
Time 11:00 AM - 1:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



The course will examine forms of what are known as “social” or popular dance as expressions of cultural or group identity from approximately the 18th century to the present. These dances, from the secular tradition of American social dance, include those performed in ballrooms, cabarets, nightclubs, cabarets, discotheques, and the street. The seminar will explore various social and popular dance styles developed as a result of the rich fusions of West African, African American, Euro-American, and Latin American forms of dance within the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Topics may include the colonial era and the dances of George Washington; ragtime couple dance and the New Woman; the lindy-hop and the of crossing racial boundaries; and teen dances and youth rebellion of the 1950s. In all cases, we will explore social and popular dance forms as experiences of movement that both respond and give shape to social, cultural, and political issues of the day. In addition to extensive viewing of dance, readings will include Mauss, “Techniques of the Body”; Katz, “The Egalitarian Waltz”; Hunter, “The Blues Aesthetic and Black Vernacular Dance”; Sante, Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York; Tomko, Dancing Class: Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Divides in American Dance; Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn of the Century New York; Malone, Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance; Dinerstein, Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture Between the World Wars; and Rose, Black Noise


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)