The Moving Body and the English Romantic Imaginary explores ways in which England in the Romantic period conceptualized its relation both to its constituent parts within the United Kingdom and to the larger world through discussions of dance, dancing, and dancers, and through theories of dance and performance.
As a referent that both engaged and constructed the body—through physical training, anatomization, spectacle and spectatorship, pathology, parody, and sentiment—dance worked to produce an English exceptional body. Discussions of dance in fiction and periodical essays, as well as its visual representation in print culture, were important ways to theorize points of contact as England was investing itself in the world as an economic and imperial power during and after the Revolutionary period. These formulations offer dance as an engine for the reconfiguration of gender, class, and national identity in the print culture of late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Dance in the Romantic Imagination
Chapter 1: Theorizing the Dancing Body
Chapter 2: Foreign Dancers in English Space: Theatrical Politics and Political Theatre in Romantic Print Culture
Chapter 3: Contending Aesthetics: Austen, Thackeray, and the Rise of the Ballerina
Chapter 4: Strange Disorders, Exciting Contagions: Dancing and Disease in the Periodicals
Chapter 5: Nationalism, Nostalgia, and English Country Dancing
Kristin Flieger Samuelian is an Associate Professor of English at George Mason University. She is the author of Royal Romances: Sex, Scandal, and Monarchy in Print, 1780–1821 (2010), as well as journal and anthology essays on Dickens, Austen, and Romantic periodicals.
"This lively study makes the innovative claim that dance served to conceptualize Englishness during the long Romantic period. With compelling evidence from popular publications throughout Britain, Samuelian shows that dance figured both as a healthful English recreation and a threatening foreign contagion. Ranging from Mozart and Emma Hamilton to Austen, Dickens, and Thackeray, and drawing adeptly on periodicals and graphic satire, this book presents a fascinating view of the dancing body as a contested signifier in Romantic-era controversies over politics, religion, and gender." Angela Esterhammer, University of Toronto
"Most of us only fleetingly notice the dancers who appear in Romantic-era print culture. Kristin Flieger Samuelian centers a brilliant spotlight on these figures, revealing how they fuel debates over national identity. The Moving Body and the English Romantic Imaginary makes a significant contribution to both Romantic-era performance studies and literary analysis. Come for the capacious overview of dance aesthetics and politics; stay for the fresh reading of Fanny Price as spectral ballerina." Judith Pascoe, author of The Sarah Siddons Audio Files: Romanticism and the Lost Voice