Dance in the Renaissance

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European Fashion, French Obsession

Margaret M. McGowan

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $85.00
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Dance was at the core of Renaissance social activity in France and had important connections with most major issues of the period. This finely illustrated book provides the first full account of the pivotal place and high status of dance in sixteenth-century French culture and society.


Margaret M. McGowan examines the diverse forms of dance in the Renaissance, contemporary attitudes toward dance, and the light this throws on moral, political, and aesthetic concerns of the time. Among the subjects she covers are: expectations of dance; style, costume, music, and social coding; court dance versus social dancing; dance and the Valois dynasty; professional dancers, virtuosos, and choreographers; burlesque; opposition to dance; and dance and the people. Nearly one hundred illustrations, many of them rare, accompany the engrossing text.

Margaret M. McGowan is research professor of French at the University of Sussex and an internationally known scholar of sixteenth-century French culture. She is the author of The Vision of Rome in Late Renaissance France, published by Yale University Press.

“... this is a work of fine scholarship, elegantly written and firmly rooted in a prodigious array of primary sources. Margaret McGowan’s account displays throughout shrewd analysis and solid argument, consistently supported by well-chosen examples.”—Julia Prest, Times Literary Supplement

"This third book on dance by McGowan, a distinguished scholar of French Renaissance culture and a pioneer in dance research, examines the French obsession with dance during the 16th century. . . . Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, this is an important contribution to the history of dance. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."—Choice

"Margaret M. McGowan has produced a significant and valuable contribution to dance history and, more generaly, to cultural history. . . . McGowan's clear and eloquent prose is a joy to read, and her text is full of intriguing details and pertinent questions that spark additional ideas and questions in the mind of the reader."—Jennifer Neville, American Historical Review

". . . the author's masterful handling of difficult, fragmented evidence, guarantee that Dance in the Renaissance will serve as both a reference text and a model for further studies in French Renaissance performance." —Nadine D. Pederson, H-France Review

"[A] magisterial new book on dance in the sixteenth century. . . . [A] comprehensive new history."—Katie van Orden, Journal of Modern History

"A bibliographic trove, begging to be explored, and the fact that Professor McGowan has assembled it all is simply astounding."—Katherine Tucker McGinnis, Renaissance Quarterly

"On the subject of Renaissance dance, no maestro knows better how to orchestrate such a performance than Margaret M. McGowan. . . . Elegantly written and lavishly produced. . . . Perhaps it should likened to a performance in perpetual rehearsal, one that invites the reader to join and thus contribute to the movement already well underway thanks to McGowan's own mastery of Renaissance dance."—Michael Wolfe, Canadian Journal of History

"This erudite and handsomely illustrated book manages to be both scholarly and entertaining. . . . Readers [will] discover the abundant research material, observations, and analyses offered in Dance in the Renaissance."—Hervé-Thomas Campagne, The Sixteenth Century Journal

Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine

Shortlisted for the 2009 R.H. Gapper Book Prize
ISBN: 9780300115574
Publication Date: December 2, 2008
330 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
96 b/w