Scandal on the Dance Floor: Mixed Dancing and Jewish Modernity

For the Public
Wednesday, May 1, 2024
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

219 S. 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Athenaeum Events



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 Jewish culture, literary treatments of dancing can reveal new insights into emancipation and acculturation.

In this talk, Jewish literature scholar Sonia Gollance discusses sites of mixed-sex dancing such as weddings and taverns, which were seen as the very epitome of modernity––and the ultimate boundary transgression.


Sonia Gollance

Sonia Gollance

University College London

Sonia Gollance 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 (Stanford University Press, 2021; reissued in paperback, 2023), was a finalist in the National Jewish Book Awards winner of a Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title. She currently teaches in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London, having received her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pennsylvania.


This program is hosted and cosponsored by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.