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It Could Lead to Dancing: Mixed-Sex Dancing and Jewish Modernity

13 November 2023, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

cover of book sonia gollance It Could Lead to Dancing: Mixed-Sex Dancing and Jewish Modernity

Dr Sonia Gollance will present her National Jewish Book Award finalist book It Could Lead to Dancing, which was released in paperback in October.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni

Availability

Yes

Cost

Free

Organiser

Institute of Historical Research

Location

Institute of Historical Research
Senate House
Malet Street
London
WC1E 7HU

Dances and balls appear throughout world literature as venues for young people to meet, flirt, and form relationships, as any reader of Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, or Romeo and Juliet can attest. The popularity of social dance transcends class, gender, ethnic, and national boundaries. In the context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Jewish culture, dance offers crucial insights into debates about emancipation and acculturation. While traditional Jewish law prohibits men and women from dancing together, Jewish mixed-sex dancing was understood as the very sign of modernity––and the ultimate boundary transgression.

Writers of modern Jewish literature deployed dance scenes as a charged and complex arena for understanding the limits of acculturation, the dangers of ethnic mixing, and the implications of shifting gender norms and marriage patterns, while simultaneously entertaining their readers. In this pioneering study, Sonia Gollance examines the specific literary qualities of dance scenes, while also paying close attention to the broader social implications of Jewish engagement with dance. Combining cultural history with literary analysis and drawing connections to contemporary representations of Jewish social dance, Gollance illustrates how mixed-sex dancing functions as a flexible metaphor for the concerns of Jewish communities in the face of cultural transitions.

In her talk, Dr Gollance will present her National Jewish Book Award finalist book It Could Lead to Dancing, which was released in paperback in October.

About the Speaker

Dr Sonia Gollance

Lecturer in Yiddish at UCL

Sonia Gollance is Lecturer in Yiddish at UCL. She is a scholar of Yiddish Studies and German-Jewish literature whose work focuses on dance, theatre, and gender. Her first book, It Could Lead to Dancing: Mixed-Sex Dancing and Jewish Modernity, was published by Stanford University Press in 2021. Previously she taught at the University of Vienna, The Ohio State University, and the University of Göttingen (Germany). She received her PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA in Comparative Literature and Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago.

More about Dr Sonia Gollance