Literature and Dance in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Jane Austen to the New Woman

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Literary critics often pursue analyses of music or painting and literature as 'sister arts', yet this was the first full-length study of the treatment of social dance in literature. A vital part of social life and courtship with its own symbolism, dance in the nineteenth century was a natural point of interest for novelists writing about these topics; and indeed ballroom scenes could themselves be used to further courtship narratives or illustrate other significant encounters. Including analyses of works by Jane Austen, W. M. Thackeray, George Eliot and Anthony Trollope, as well as extensive material from nineteenth-century dance manuals, Cheryl A. Wilson shows how dance provided a vehicle through which writers could convey social commentary and cultural critique on issues such as gender, social mobility and nationalism.