Printer Friendly

The cultural turn and a new social history: folk dance and the renovation of class in social history.

Class has largely disappeared as a useful category of analysis in social history, most especially for the social history of the recent past. While this is a problem general to social history, it is especially acute in the well-established field of labor history and in the burgeoning new field of middle-class studies. For the most part, labor history has focused on industrial working-class communities and, predominantly, on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries where their struggles were most evident and heroic. (1) In contrast to the growth of middle-class studies, some historians fear that in the opening decade of the twenty-first century, labor history is in jeopardy of atrophying. (2) I believe, however, that if social history is to mature analytically, the ascendance of the one and decline of the other has to be reversed, if only because they are properly not opposites but twins.

The postmodern focus on the language of class and subjectivity has contributed to the contemporary problem of class, even as I think it offers a way out of it. The shift from production to consumption in modern industrial (or, postindustrial) society has, through access to widely available consumer goods (although unequally so, which people often forget) shaped languages of class. Approximately three-quarters of the American population, for example, describe themselves as middle class. (3) Many of these people are, white collar workers laboring in professional, managerial, technical or clerical occupations. Many more though are industrial workers. Sociologist David Halle's useful description of chemical workers who identify as middle-class at home and as working-class in the plant makes this point, but his larger insight is that the two worlds are not distinct. (4) Modern class relations, and how we study them as historians, occupy a liminal space between complex subjectivities that are embedded in the relationship between languages of class and the changing material conditions of work and labor.

The following case study suggests that the future direction for the study of social class lies at the juncture of social and culture studies. But to begin, it is important to recognize that 'culture' in historical writing has had a range of meanings. (5) The use of the word in labor history is not new: in the United States, 'working-class culture' was the proverbial coin of the realm in the 1970s when Herbert G. Gutman and his students worked in the long shadow of British cultural Marxists such as E.P. Thompson, Richard Hoggart and Eric Hobsbawm, and cultural anthropologists such as Clifford Geertz and Sidney Mintz. Following Mintz, they placed culture and society in dialogue--the former as a resource for the latter, which functioned as a site. In seeking to give workers agency, this tradition focused on the autonomy of worker culture as it informed patterns of resistance to capitalism. (6)

The version of cultural history invoked in the 1980s was very different. Not unlike the backlash politics of the Reagan years, "new" cultural historians offered an alternative to social history. In its most constructive form, cultural historians such as Thomas Bender, claimed 'cultural history' as a 'whole' framework for the more empirically-based social history--the 'parts'. In other hands, however, the shift amounted to a call for a return to a 'master narrative.' In reaction to the central place social history had won for workers, minorities and women in history, this form of cultural history felt like a call to put the master back in control of the narrative. (7) In this formulation the call for synthesis rather than balkanization, a charge which Gutman had in fact initiated, often elided the social base of cultural institutions and showed little concern for the place of power in cultural forms--famously, for Gramscian ideas of hegemony--it did not reject class analysis, it minimized it. (8)

An alternative third sense of culture, variously labeled the cultural or linguistic turn, emerged in the late 1980s as part of a counter-'master' narrative. Building on the insights of post-structuralism and deconstruction, which argue for the instability of categories, including identities, and focus on their social constructiveness, this cultural turn exists in sometimes uneasy relationship to cultural studies with its debt to notions of power in discourse endebted more to Foucault and Gramsci than Derrida. (9) In shorthand, if the cultural Marxists sought to affirm the autonomy of working-class culture, the cultural turn cast culture as porous, multi-vocal and embedded in an interclass dynamic. What the historian Andy Wood writes about the possibilities of the postmodern/linguistic turn for early modern history has the same potential for the modern historian: "combined with some of the surviving fragments of historical materialism,... such an analysis ... liberates us to reconsider ... social conflicts in new and more interesting ways" (10)

Ironically, labor historians played major roles in both the emergence and opposition to the cultural turn in the United States. Feminist scholars such as Joan Wallach Scott, Judith R. Walkowitz and Ava Baron, each of whom cut their teeth in labor history, have written some of the books and articles that have most shaped the 'turn.' (11) Male labor historians, most notoriously Bryan Palmer, who worried that the focus on subjectivities ignored "the real," led the opposition in fixating on material conditions workers faced everyday. (12) But, in the new millennium, the debate appears to have ended, largely with a victory for the cultural turn--even Palmer has made his peace, however uncomfortably, with the shift. (13) Some scholars have already turned to life "after the turn." (14) Yet such a call seems premature. For in victory, the cultural turn only now stands ready to revitalize class analysis, albeit I believe its success will be in partnership with social history. Combining post-structuralism and cultural studies with social history, a project that has already attracted a growing group of social historians, (15) offers critical ways to invigorate a study of class and culture, suggesting what a new history of class might look like. For me, it also continues an intellectual project I began in my last book, Working With Class. While that study spoke to the problem of "middle-class identity," its larger agenda was "how do you write the history of the working class when everyone thinks he or she belongs to the middle class?" That project sought answers by combining the more familiar tools of the new social history with the tools of what I would call post structural cultural studies. It drew upon the history of social workers in the twentieth century, exploring the subjectivity of one group of professional, white collar workers as that class fraction emerged in relation to the social history of work, labor and ideology.

This essay uses the history of folk dance in the United States, and most particularly English Country Dance, to continue my exploration of the subjectivity of professional-managerial workers in twentieth and twenty-first centuries America. It is a small case study of a limited group that only hints at the larger theoretical claims of the above overview. It means mostly to suggest an additional strategy for writing modern social history: it illustrates, on the one hand, expanded parameters for modern class history; on the other hand, it suggests narrative and methodological strategies for its study. In this latter regard, this study uses two sources in particular that come out of the more recent historical moment: videotaped oral histories and a survey. The video oral histories (completed during the past five years in collaboration with Stephanie Smith and Charlie Weber, a folklorist and videographer respectively with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) consist of a representative cross-section of more than sixty active ECD dancers and some of the more prominent musicians, teachers and choreographers in the dance. The survey, conducted during the spring and summer 2003, builds on the work of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's analysis of the material markers of class identity in the last half of the twentieth century. (16) The survey provides information from approximately 170 dancers from across the United States at national dance camps and local dance events on both the east and west coast. These questionnaires provide demographic data about the dance community (age, sexual identity, income, ethnicity, religion, marital status, and so forth) but also information about political attitudes, family life and associational life of dancers. This information makes it possible to begin to develop a portrait of this class fraction.

I contend that embedding the cultural turn in social history allows 'class' to be usefully engaged as a social category at a time when Americans do not 'speak' of class--at least not verbally. These sources provide strategies for visually and cognitively mapping the social class distinctions in the modern era. Surveys help illuminate the social base and cultural accoutrements of the class fraction that make up the folk dance community; the video oral histories place the oral commentary on the politics of class in dialogue with the commentary expressed by dancing bodies. For folk dance is an expression of the culture of the 'working middle class' (or a left-wing professional managerial class fraction of it), and the study of it demonstrates how culture remains a rich arena for working-class experience. In this sense, the insights of social history and cultural studies combined hold great promise for expanding the analysis and understanding of modern society.

Before proceeding, three particular elements of the study of folk dance and of the methodology underlying this study require comment in particular, for each shapes the study of the dancer's subjectivity in unique ways. First is the matter of 'invented traditions.' Today, the invented character of folk dance, while not understood by the pioneering early twentieth-century folklorists, has become commonplace within the dance world. The sense that we who dance are now the folk and that dancing is itself part of the folk process is the postmodern conundrum of the present folk dance movement: what does it mean to do a 'folk' dance and do it 'right' if however it is done is simply the folk process?

Further complicating the matter of the folk dancer's subjectivity is the mixed heterogeneous origins of the dance among village people on the one hand, and gentry on the other. Indeed, this confusion of origins and the idea of the folk process complicate the dancer's sense of himself or herself in the dance. At the same time, it makes body language potentially the more revealing: people dissemble when they speak; they perform identity when they dance. Each is layered with distancing techniques, irony and play. As Simon Gunn, following Bourdieu, has pointed out, "social structure itself is incorporated, sedimented in the body at the level of habit and gesture." (17) On video, unconscious (on some level) mannerisms often expose non-verbal feelings: people open or enfold arms and legs, hesitate or grow silent, and so forth; dancers express attitude. The embodied voice may confirm stated senses of the self, or be in dialogue with stated views. Such mannerisms are not self-evident, but they are deep cultural cues in dialogue with commentary in oral interviews. Dancing bodies in couple dances also express social relations of power--who leads and who follows, for instance--at variance from expressions of equality in the dance. Again Gunn helpfully reminds us of the bodily "choreography of authority"--deference, subordination, status, and the like--which are "customarily expressed through bodily performance." (18) The video oral history of dancers and the dance, then, adds a dimension to how people 'speak' class with their body, often in dialogue or tension with what they are verbalizing. In the video oral history (only described here of course), the historian can hear and see people speak, embody and enact class (and gender and ethnicity).

As a look at historical narrative, however, this project further complicates the way that the oral historian in editing text is also the narrator: as a folk dance teacher, performer and recreational dancer myself, I am a participant-observer who could as easily be the subject of the interview as the interviewer. Of course, on a fundamental level, the historian always tells his or her own story in constructing an apparently seamless narrative from diverse data. But the questions I ask, however open-ended, reflect questions that have long interested me as a member of the dance community, so my own voice and perspective--indeed, our voices are never silent--more explicitly shape the narrative of my interventions.

English Country Dance and the Politics of the Folk

English Country Dance is less well known to contemporaries than its American cousins, the contra and square dance, but many are familiar with it today from its use in the film and television adaptations of Jane Austen novels. Moreover, virtually every schoolgirl educated in twentieth-century America grew up doing some version of English country dance and folk dance, though few probably thought of it as a substantive part of their educational experience. My wife, Judith, for instance, growing up in suburban Long Island in the 1950s, remembers folk dance as one of the preferred 'gym' options for girls; you did not have to change or take a shower in the middle of the day. In the class she learned a variety of dances from many lands. Children's favorites like the "Mexican Hat Dance" and, likely because of the Jewish background of the community, familiar Israeli folk dances like "Miyam," or "Do Di Li" alternated with some 'American' folk dance favorites such as "Pop Goes the Weasel."

In doing these dances, Judith was learning some dances that had been danced in America for centuries. As British colonies, ECD had been done in Colonial Assemblies in the 18th century; indeed, George Washington's political status was enhanced by his renown as a dancer. (19) Largely disappearing in the nineteenth century, however, in favor of the more sprightly waltzes and ballroom dances, the folk revival that swept Europe at the turn of the last century gave them renewed life and new political meaning. Danish folk schools and then English Country Dancing in particular, led the American folk revival--the latter as part of an Anglo-American 'native' tradition. Social reformers taught folk dances from the ECD and American traditions as a way to transmit values and modes of expression from an imagined essential 'natural' rural past they saw threatened by the presumed 'artificiality' of urban life. Thus, Mary W. Hinman taught a combination of ball room and folk dance to both sexes at Chicago's Hull House as early as 1897, and ten years later, the Principal at P.S 15 in Manhattan crowed that some sixty "healthy, happy" fifth-grade girls in the Burchenal Athletic Club regularly performed fifteen Northern European dances, from the Irish Jig to the Hungarian Csardas, Swedish Frykdalspolkska, Russian Comarinskaia and a Minuet. By 1909, Elizabeth Burchenal, who directed the teachers who ran the Club and was just becoming chairman [sic] of the Folk-Dance Committee of the Playground Association of America, claimed to have trained over 250 (female) public school folk dance teachers. These teachers, in turn, taught the dances to more than 24,000 public school girls.

Folk dance, then, reflected American gender prejudices, but not just of girls. Educators thought it especially appropriate for girls, and it was most often a regular part of their physical education program, but schoolboys, too, sometimes participated in the dancing. So, while I recall folk dancing as a schoolboy in the 1950s in Northern New Jersey public schools, my memories are of being taught dances like "The Virginia Reel" as part of specific holiday programs. The junior high school administration organized social dance lessons for students, but that was a voluntary after school program. "The Virginia Reel" was taught as a scheduled part of the school day, although my recollection is that it was not done during physical education period. In fact, our learning it might have been part of Thanksgiving festivities, for we certainly "knew" the dance as an American traditional dance brought forward from our colonial ancestors. Our teachers did not know, or certainly did not indicate they knew, that the dance was actually a modified version of the classic English country dance, "Sir Roger de Cloverly." To our teachers--and to us--it was an authentic 'American' dance. (20)

The point of the above anecdotes is not that the roots of the dance were obscured; they often were, and reflect the process of remembering and forgetting that is the subject for another occasion. Rather, this essay explores why professional-managerial middle-class adults from diverse ethnic backgrounds would persist in doing English Country Dance (with its 'American' Country Dance cousins, which the general public knows as Contra and Square Dance) through to the present. Organized in March 1915, the American Branch of the English Folk Dance Society is the oldest folk dance organization in this country. Nearly a century later, it continues to thrive. At the outset of the twentieth-first century, its descendant, Country Dance and Song Society of America (CDSS) boasts over 250 affiliate groups and several thousand members. Hundreds of other groups remain unaffiliated. On any night of the week, one can country dance in virtually any metropolitan area of the country. To be sure, the majority of the clubs are dedicated to Contra Dance, but several thousand English dancers gather for weekly or bi-weekly evenings of stately dance with groups as disparate as the Fairbanks, Alaska, English Country Dancers and English County Dance Atlanta. There they take a partner and line up in sets of two, three, four or 'for as many as will' to dance to the music of Henry Purcell, George Frederick Handel and other classical and baroque masters.

English Country Dance, then, has been a central part of the origins of the folk dance movement in the United States, and its history as both an educational policy and personal practice illuminates much about the middle-class fraction for whom it became a recreational passion. "The Virginia Reel" and the square dances American children also learned in grade school were part of a process of cultural exchange in which an Anglo-American dance tradition developed over the course of the century on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, ECD's long and relatively steady presence in the United States gives it a unique purchase on the history and role of folk dance in America.

ECD also expressed many of the complicated gender messages of the early twentieth century: it celebrated historical dance forms built on what participants imagined as 'traditional' heterosexual gender conventions. In class terms, ECD leaders advanced country dancing as a respectable alternative to what they saw as the sexual and social danger in 'tough' dancing enjoyed by unsupervised working-class dance hall patrons. ECD also celebrated "authentic style" that demanded dancers express their class and gender in the body. Teachers, for instance, defended the graceful and moderate ECD movements as especially appropriate physical exercise for young women, and they represented their dance venues as safe, female spaces for women dance leaders. (21)

ECD is, however, especially compelling as a window on the culture and politics of liberalism in America during the last half of the twentieth century. In the last half of the century, my survey finds more than seventy percent of English Country Dancers come to the dance through International Folk Dance of American Country Dance (contras or squares) (22); others come through folk song, which also tends to be an international tradition. The international core provides an especially good point of entry into left-liberal political culture, for outside the national folk traditions, 'folkies' have tended to be counter-cultural. So, the history of ECD in America is not just a way into the politics of the folk, it permits a re-examination of left-liberal political culture in America and the prevailing wisdom about associational life, advanced by Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1840s and the political scientist Robert Putnam more recently, as the quintessential democratic experience. (23)

If, as Gary Gerstle has averred, war was the "crucible" in which modern liberalism was molded around a blend of civic and racial nationalism, folk dance associations were the equivalent cultural 'crucible' for elaborating its 'disciplinary regimes.' Across the century, as cultural critics have well established, popular and conventional texts--the 'stuff' of cultural work--can be read as "attempts to define the social order." English Country Dance, as a cultural text, inscribes the body, then, after Foucault, as a form and product of the liberal expression of class-consciousness and the disposition of power in society. (24)

The emerging professional-technical class (managers are notably absent) took up English Country Dance as an expression of folk culture. The movement's history reflects how such people built a decidedly urban cultural form through ethnic, gender and class imaginings of country life. The historian James Cook's observations about the increasing difficulty of reading who was respectable in the "anonymous environment of the antebellum metropolis," was multiplied in the industrial, immigrant city of the early twentieth century. Following Bourdieu, Cook reminds us how the "middle class created elaborate new systems of significance and distinction (their heads, wardrobes, gestures, homes and urban landscapes served as the raw materials), all with the same basic impulse to fix one's social status rigidly and unambiguously." (25) The stately posture, gestures, attire and conventions of the English Country Dance were in such ways markers of the class fraction who promoted the dance as a recreational adjunct of their life.

But these 'folk' were liberal subjects engaged in the Progressive-era transnational Anglo-American liberal project described by Daniel Rodgers for both England and the United States. They had a more precise class location as the Liberal subject represented in reformers and the rising professional-technical-engineering class fraction. The historian Chris Otter has detailed how this Liberal subject as the self-governing individual enacted liberal democracy through technologies such as lighting, sanitation and housing. Otter notes how such infrastructures make liberalism work, reorganizing the streets and public spaces to create 'improved' individuals. The state plays a major role in subsidizing utilities and mobilizing education and public spaces like playgrounds, but this liberal project does not rely on direct government intervention. ECD, as another technology of the body, is part of the same liberal project. (26)

A 1968 demonstration of English Country Dance by the Boston branch of the Country Dance and Song Society of America at the Newport Folk Festival aptly represented the left-liberal character of the dance community, a community revitalized by infusions of New Left enthusiasts caught up in the postwar second folk revival. Folk music was an organizing tool within the civil rights and antiwar movements, making, in the cultural historian George Lipsitz's words, "musical expression an organic part of the political process." Folk music and country dance, especially American contras and squares, were embedded in the alternative and sometimes oppositional counter-cultures that thrived in and around rural communes. (27) Over sixty percent of dancers questioned in 2003 characterized themselves as "liberal"; another twenty percent described themselves as "left wing." Only eight people (4.7 percent) described themselves as "conservative" or "right wing," and about half of this group did not regularly do ECD. They were members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a group that performs historical reconstructions, mostly of patriotic and military events such as medieval faires and jousts and US civil war and revolutionary war commemorations.

The civil rights and counter cultures had reshaped the liberalism that the core of the ECD community embraced: on the one hand, the discourse of liberalism shifted during the '60s from class to rights consciousness; on the other hand, a new liberalism focused less on economic conditions for the good life (i.e., the "square meal") and more on "moral growth and self fulfillment" and the quality of life (i.e., the environment). (28) Racial polarization and the cultural conflicts of the counter culture left sixties radicals who entered ECD with a complicated relationship to the hegemony of liberalism, on which the remainder of this essay means to focus. Folk dancers, and those doing ECD in particular, may have become more or less self-consciously allied with a political movement as in the '60s, but as Bourdieu has shown, as an aesthetic form the dance movement is no less political. The social, cultural and political world of the English Country Dance community reflects what Bourdieu calls the "aesthetic choices [that] belong to the set of ethical choices which constitute a life style...." (29) And this aesthetic world can serve the status interests of the group, either as a hegemonic force or in opposition to established orders. The ethnography of the contemporary ECD community that follows is meant to illuminate its class cultural appropriation. Faced with continuing evidence of social inequality and racial polarization in America, it remains to be seen how the left-liberal professional-managerial class fraction that made up the ECD community emerged, and how its anti-materialist legacy, its disdain for "ticky-tacky houses" and consumerism and its commitment to government-led initiatives like affirmative action and equal opportunity, would shape the culture of liberalism at the opening of the new millennium. (30)

The Folk Dance Case

The homogeneity of the American ECD community today is hard to miss: aside from a few people of Indian and Japanese descent, and the rare African American, everyone at dances is white. (31) Of course, the meaning of whiteness had changed over the course of the century; as Mathew Jacobson has demonstrated, north and east European ethnics had become 'white' in postwar American culture and immigration polity. (32) Class background had not changed since English folklorist Cecil Sharp established the American Branch of the English Folk Song and Dance Society in New York in 1915: the class composition had become less elite, but it has remained preeminently bourgeois and urbane, from affluent suburbs and urban areas. These 'folk' are professional-technical workers or in the arts--the majority (56.3 percent) were (and are today) professors, teachers, librarians, social workers, nurses, doctors, but there was also a fair representation (14.3 percent) of theatrical and musical people. Most recently, reflecting the changing character of work in the late twentieth century, a substantial number (10.1 percent) work in the computer world. (33) Not surprisingly, this professional-technical group is older, well established and highly educated. Reporting an average household income of over $80,000, virtually all are college educated (88.3 percent), and more than half (60.2 percent) have graduate degrees. This class fraction is also a cultural slice defined by age: if youth is to be served, it is not by ECD where the average age is in the low 50s. The ease of the dance on knees partially explains the attraction of older people to ECD, but as we shall see below, the ECD community has also embraced a "distinctive" culture with class signifiers that stand in opposition to central elements of a more lusty cross-class and intra-ethnic alternative youth culture. But more on this later.

The last half-century has seen two important shifts in the composition of the modern ECD community. First, the dance form has always been coupled and conventionally heterosexual (93.3 percent identified themselves as "heterosexual" and about two thirds listed themselves as partnered), but, coincident with the rise of second wave feminism, the last few decades have seen the emergence of occasional gender-free dances. While the percentage is lower for men than women, almost all (82.5 percent) respondents surveyed describe themselves as moderately or strongly influenced by feminism. (As one person wrote, "It has shaped my life experience in how people relate to one another.") Still, gender balance in admission to special dance events such as Balls and dance weekends that require advance registration, while a subject of great debate, is generally enforced. Yet, there is an increasing willingness to break with gender roles, especially among the women (who also tend to be in extra numbers). Men have always been less comfortable partnering other men, but even this taboo has begun to break down in the last decade. Christine Helwig, a retired ECD leader who has focused on the reconstruction of the historical dances, remembered that Carl Whitman, a '60s activist with deep roots in the anti-war and counter-culture movements who became a leader of the Gay Liberation Movement, played a major role in opening up ECD gender conventions. Whitman, she remembered, "belonged to a community that never, never segregated by sex. The way they started dances was in a big circle, and the people were scattered all around the circle. Then he would select a couple and you lined up. You might be a woman on the man's side or a man on the woman's side. It didn't make any difference as far as he was concerned." (34) While such practices are unusual, at least three communities--Boston, the Bay Area and Durham, North Carolina--held regular gender-free dances at the end of the twentieth century.

The second shift is in the ethnic composition of the dance community. The ECD community for the first half of the twentieth century was decidedly waspish, with what some recall as a veneer of anti-Semitism. Helwig, for instance, recalled the New York City group she joined in the 1960s was "sort of an elite group." Gene Murrow, one of the premier ECD teachers and musicians, and himself a serious student of the dance's history who began dancing in the 1960s while at Harvard, felt the community's ethnic composition changed about thirty-five years ago. Before that, though, it was an elite activity with a prudish Victorian tone that was probably consistent with the values of that older generation of upper-class women. Thus, several long-time dancers remembered--albeit with a fond chuckle--that Cecil Sharp's appointed leader of the American Branch, May Gadd, beat the bushes at night at the community's summer dance camp resort, Pinewoods Camp, to make sure there was no hanky-panky. Although he had no first-hand experience of its narrowness, Gene Murrow summarizes the elite social tone to the early dance community: "there was some anti-Semitism prior to when I started dancing in the '60s. In this country, English Country Dancing in the '30s and '40s and '50s was definitely an American upper-class snooty activity. It was done at the Metropolitan Club in New York, things like that ... It did loosen up in the '60s, as many other things did." (35)

The highlighting of ECD at the Newport Festival in 1968, then, symbolized a fundamental shift in ECD from its earlier genteel roots to its incorporation within the broader international folk dance community, a folk tradition with more proletarian identifications. Indeed, Arthur Cornelius, a Boston dance leader who helped organize the Newport performance recalls that ECD dancers held rehearsals for their performances at the 1964 World's fair in New York at the Folk Dance House in New York, the famous center of international dance hosted by Michael and Mary Ann Herman. (36) The entry of folkies and politicos from the sixties such as Carl Whitman and countless others interviewed only fueled the left-liberal ECD community over the next decade.

The Newport Folk Festival's tie to ECD has significance as a marker in another way, however: it was at Newport that Bob Dylan hooked up his electrical guitar and transformed folk to folk-rock, and in so doing began to popularize the folk genre's proletarian or working-class political context. Ironically then, Newport by 1968 both anointed ECD as part of the national folk tradition at the same time as that tradition was being transformed into a commodified, and less politicized (or, to some, de-politicized) social world. Gene Murrow speaks of how his own views of the ECD tradition have changed.</p> <pre> There's no question that when I first came to Pinewoods Camp--in my late teens, early twenties [the 1960s]--I was entranced by the whole idea that I was discovering this merrie-old-England.... I fell for the whole myth that was perpetrated at the time, that we were discovering our roots, the Anglo-American culture, that this was a window and a gateway into that long pre-Christian tradition, Druid rights and the dark English countryside. And I believed it for many years. It started to unravel as I started to go to England and tried to discover that

English countryside and where the English folk were still doing their

charming old dances. And of course discovered--as Sharp had known,

too, but chose to ignore--that they were, you know, listening to music hall and Broadway musicals and West End musicals and radio, like everyone else. (37) </pre> <p>By the 1980s, Murrow had become disabused of this 'myth', but he recognized it still had some connection to the past for many dancers. "I'm always impressed with the number of antiquarians among us--librarians and historians, folks who are interested in the continuity of civilization [who]--see this as their link, a living link with the past. No doubt about it. And I think that there's no doubt about the fact that our dance community, for many people, has become almost their primary community, taking the place of the extended family or the church congregations took perhaps a century ago." (38) It is to the meaning of this community, and the relation of the past to its present in a series of video oral histories that I now wish to turn.

First a few words about how English Country Dance differs from other folk dances and how video may help fill out its meanings for participants. Unlike dances in the international repertoire, which in this country, come largely from Eastern Europe, most English dances have no specific connection to a ritual--they are not, for instance, courting or marriage dances. The meaning of the dances for dancers lies in the style of the dance itself, something they can speak about with their oral testimony and their bodies.

Looking today at all these bourgeois city-folk teaching and dancing folk dances, and in the case of the English Country Dances, doing reels, jigs and longways set dances with indeterminate, varied and multiple historical origins among villagers and gentry (but increasingly including dances written in the present "in the historical tradition"), I wondered who they thought they were imitating in 'doing it right.' And what was the attraction of this village or country dance to these urban professionals?

So who then are the folk these dancers embody as they "move through space"? The twin foundational roots of the English Country Dance--in the medieval village circle dances and the gentry's dances of the seventeenth century--allow contemporary dancers to develop different stories about the folks they emulate. Are they the shepherdesses envisioned by a fifty-something Southern journalist, Mary Alison (pseud.), or the gentry depicted in the Austen reconstructions as celebrated by Pat Ruggiero, a 53 year-old book indexer from Palmyra, Virginia, or a hybrid as expressed in Thom Yarnal, a 50-year-old Wisconsin-based community theater manager who in his interview invoked both the country bumpkin and the aristocrats? (39) In fact, interviews express a range of voices with these multiple referents; but dancers' bodies belie more modern attitudes. That is, say what we will, what we imagine, we have a difficult time 'escaping' our body. On the dance floor, tens and, at times, over a hundred bodies 'speak', telling a story with contemporary class signifiers in dress and carriage.

To be sure, dances and dancers differ--in tempo, stepping, exuberance, carriage, and more. Some are sappy waltzes; others are exuberant--even aerobic--with chase patterns, reels and ranting steps. The music, drawn from highbrow, classical composers, also signifies class: that of the Northern European white bourgeoisie and the court. And, while the dance form, especially in the United States where eye contact is stressed, encourages sociability and flirtation, the unwritten rules of the dance culture and the dance form and its music send structured messages that speak more to middle-class 'propriety' than tussles in the country hay. Some women do wear garlands in their hair, but they accompany ball dresses or designer 'peasant' dresses a la Laura Ashley. Although many men simply wear white, ruffled shirts with knickers at balls, others put on tuxedos or elaborate eighteenth-century aristocratic costumes. And, while marriages within the dance community are not uncommon, they come from community sociability and the intimacy of eye contact, not from intimate physical contact on the dance floor. Not only does the dance form, as noted earlier, limit physical contact, but--and this is especially the case in the United States--the unwritten rule is that you do not pre-book dances and change partners after every dance. Indeed, dancing with any partner more than once an evening (except perhaps for the final waltz) is frowned upon.

The structure of the evening, the dress and music are accoutrements to the class and gender expressions of the dancing body. Few express the contradictions between what is imagined and what is spoken with the body more eloquently than Pat Ruggiero, the Virginia dancer mentioned above. In thinking about how she moved through space--how she embodied the dance tradition--Ruggiero invoked a traditional older understanding of the folk as a rural peasantry. Such 'folk' did country, line and circle dances, 'simple' dances that, presumably expressing the 'natural' life of these people, did not have to be taught. She distinguished these from the dances "we do" that were and are taught by dancing masters--these "were done by, in the 18th century, the middle class, and in the 17th century, just by the gentry and aristocracy." And it was these latter folks who shaped how Ruggiero "moved through space: my sense of their having a social reticence in their interactions, an erect carriage, a dignified carriage, an economy of motion." (40) On the dance floor, while "dignified carriage" is her predominant body language, Ruggiero expresses it with modern dress and, not surprisingly, contemporary informal mannerisms remain.

What the dignified carriage and social reticence mean to such dancers bring us back to the question of the associational democratic character of urban liberalism today. The interviews, for instance, repeat again and again an anti-modern theme. For Thom Yarnal, "It's other-worldly, you know. It doesn't have anything to do with the twentieth century, as far as I'm concerned. It takes you to a different place and it takes you mentally and physically .... [p]eople not answering cell phones and running around." (41) According to Murrow, ECD fulfilled the "need for a more gracious time" as a "haven" from "the 21st century American speed-and-greed culture,... from what many of us would agree is an increasingly depersonalized, stressful, high-speed world." (42) Sharon Green, then a 60 year-old leader of the Country Dance New York community (who, having re-rooted in 2004, became a leader in the San Francisco Bay area), saw the haven as a return to the "innocence and simplicity of childhood." And for Mary Alison, "This is a refuge from the rest of the world.... And people here are among their tribe. And out in the real world, you often are not. You're trying to find your way among a lot of people with different values, and people that don't necessarily share your interests and share your common history ... [Here] they're entering into a community that's accepting of them and that basically wants them here." (43)

Alison's invocation of the dance community speaks, albeit somewhat obliquely, to my abiding interest in the relatively elite social composition of this would-be "folk" community and how it imagined itself on the dance floor and more generally in relation to the historical dance tradition. As Murrow and other interviewees recognize, they are elite or middle-class professionals with a sense of themselves as outsiders in a fast-paced urban world. These are 'folks' whose $80,000 plus average household income, about twice the US average, allows them to live with most creature comforts. Yet, they speak lovingly of how the dance and the music transport them to another place, away from the intrusive rings of cell phones and the "speed-and-greed" culture. They are a relative elite however, neither upper crust nor independently wealthy. Fewer than one in ten (8.9 percent), as Murrow observes, are managers, and most of these are white-collar managers rather than corporate executives; rather, most are a peculiar social cut below. Part bohemian, part bourgeois--they resemble the "bobos" caricatured by the journalist-social critic David Brooks. (44) With one foot--perhaps only a large toe--back in the counter culture, they are those, as ECD dancer and teacher Jenny Beer observes, "who've dropped out of the achievement races and just want to hang out and dance and make music." (45)

The ECD community's response to these country dances is, however, at once reminiscent of what Christopher Lasch called the search for a haven in a heartless world, and the search for an alternative to feared licentiousness of "rough dancing" and music hall culture at the turn of the last century. (46) There some important immediate differences though: these contemporary anti-modernists neither use their movement to re-train the working class, nor to invoke a nationalizing folk, and the ECD community might better be characterized as a haven in a overly wrought world.

The music is a case in point. Glenn Fulbright, a retired "dance gypsy" who taught music as the University of Kentucky, describes the music as the "most transporting experience I have." He characterized his typical feeling after doing a dance as "like I've been to church." (47) Invoking its access to a sacred place, such attitudes suggest how the music associates with high brow culture--tunes by Corelli, Purcell, and other classical and baroque composers--functioned as a signifier of this particular class fraction's "distinctiveness" and its status. The music, as others are quick to note, contrasts with the driving beat of popular music often rooted in working-class and minority cultures. Pat Ruggiero: "Popular music has a very strong beat underneath, and a lot of sexual overtones. And, you know, [ECD] is not hip-hop." Similarly, Thom Yarnal compares ECD movements and music with that of the more aerobic popular music: "the [popular] music is way too loud, number one. And the movements tend to be really violent; it's very staccato kind of stuff. And our, you know, the kind of dancing we do here is aerobic, but it doesn't have that kind of jarring. I think it's more centered on a heartbeat than the driving rhythms of a machine, which is what I think drives modern music." (48)

In her interview, Pat Ruggiero candidly details the constrained sexual narrative in ECD dancing that made it a safe place for her in an imagined earlier time:</p> <pre> ... I start with a dignified demeanor, arms quiet at the side, economy of motion, move through the space without any flailing of arms, without any embellishment to the figures, without any unnecessary gestures. Oh, and in body motion, I try to eliminate from my own motion, dancing or not, a lot of 20th century ways of conducting ourselves that I no longer care for. Either [the] smarmy sort of gliding across the floor, or jiggles or thrusts, or little coy affectations of the head, and I try to eliminate all of those so I don't look like a 20th century person dancing. I don't like it. Q: Why? What don't you like about it? ... It's very overtly physical, and I prefer a reticence in my interactions with people. And so rather than thrust some limb or do some coy or flirtatious thing that would draw someone toward me-- that's not what I want in my interactions, so I want to be honest in my interactions with people, and I prefer a certain aloofness, a certain reticence--so I keep my body tight. So I hold my body in reticence. (49) </pre> <p>Most others are less explicit about the style and its sexual meanings in their interviews, even when one could see them speaking this language in flirtatious gestures on the dance floor. One dancer, however, is unusually articulate and vocal about the related sexual and class meanings of the dance. Jenny Beer, a 45 year-old self-employed mediator from the Philadelphia area, speaks from an unusually privileged position: Beer, who runs the Swarthmore College ECD group, has folk danced for 27 years; she also has a PhD from Berkeley in Cultural Anthropology. A feminist, Beer is especially sensitive to how body language is deeply gendered. Thinking about how she relates to male partners--the small nuances in how she extends her hands for two-hand turns, or greeted partners--she characterizes as a "moment of awakening": "'Wow, I really am deeply heterosexual in the way I move my body in this dance form.' ... [T]he thing I notice the most is the smiling and the tilt of the head on the part of women, myself in particular. I think smiling obviously is a wonderful thing, but it is also an act of submission, as is a tilted head. And the tilted head is in the older dance style. If you look at the photographs, almost every woman is like this [she tilts her head]." Further research on such behavior among people of diverse social backgrounds needs to be done, but this behavior suggests the contours of this heterosexual professional class, and quite possibly its white inflection. (50)

Confirming Ruggiero's views on styling, Beer also places the body language in its class context: "[T]here's a certain containment in the way you handle your body all the time that is definitely a class mark ... [I]t's a structure that allows sexuality, but in a very middle class, contained kind of way, a safe way...." Then in a particularly revealing comment, she added, "You don't show off your butt or your breasts the way you might in, say, in African dance, where you let it all hang out." (51)

While not meant to be about race per se, Beer's comment highlights another fundamental element of the ECD community's sense of itself as a class. All interviewees agree that the dance community is "middle class," but most were also more specific. Ruggiero and Yarnal's appraisals are typical: "We're just educated professionals," noted Ruggiero, and "Caucasian heterosexuals"; Yarnal simply adds, "[W]e're a pretty affluent group of people, [and] we're pretty white." As Murrow succinctly puts it, "we are a group of lily-white, middle-class, urbanized Americans." Indeed, various interviewees, echoing the widespread talk about the need for more diversity in the dance community, note the absence of blue-collar workers and African Americans and Hispanics in the dance community. (52)

The lack of 'minorities' in the dance community puzzles and disappoints interviewees. Indeed, the ECD community generally holds counter-cultural progressive political views on race and class and consistently welcomes African Americans, Asians or Hispanics on the few occasions when they do appear at a dance, but no group makes systematic attempts for outreach to those communities. And, not surprisingly, then, few minorities who come, return. Reflecting on why they do not come back, Pat Ruggiero candidly admits, "I don't think much about it." To be sure, others do think about it, but when they do Bourdieu's lessons on the potential for class dominance in cultural forms are lost on them. Jenny Beer notes, "It's pretty esoteric, what we do." And Gene Murrow follows this logic in noting that "I don't think it speaks to [black people]." To which, Mary Alison adds, "I guess this kind of dancing is not part of their particular traditions." (53)

Yet a cursory review of CDSS membership lists or enrollees at Pinewoods discloses a preponderance of ethnic Irish, Italian and Jewish names in the dance community who seemingly have little ancestral connection to England. Indeed, the history of ECD and inscription of race in Anglo-American culture fills out a picture of Atlantic World history that has tended to focus such inscriptions on non-European 'others.' (54) For the changing history of the ECD community is a lesson in the history of whiteness in twentieth-century America and the Atlantic World. Recall that until mid-century the ECD community had never been especially welcoming to such ethnics, even if only in the subtle demeanor and attitudes of its members. Since the sixties, second and third generation ethnic folks such as Gene Murrow, Pat Ruggiero, Sharon Weiner Green--and Daniel Walkowitz--had become integral members of the community. (55) In the contemporary survey, only 36.9 percent of respondents claimed British ancestry; Jews, who were largely absent a half century earlier, now made up 27.5 percent of the group.

Historians have demonstrated how Anglo-American tradition had been transformed to incorporate Jews and other white ethnics. (56) At the same time as their inclusion had changed the meaning of the 'tradition,' the expansion of whiteness to include ethnic Americans coincided with a changed sense of the folk in ECD. (57) The folk early in the last century were part of the imagining of a national (Anglo-American) identity; at the end of the century the imagining of the past has come to define an urban subjectivity as white, heterosexual and anti-modern. True, the preponderance of the dancers today may live in suburbs, but it is important to remember that these "burbs" have themselves been constructed as white spaces in relation to cities. (58)

Vestiges of the political impulses from the 1930s and 1960s folk traditions can be seen in the ECD community today, especially as a haven for those who reject the dominant cultural rhythms--its "speed-and-greed" culture. The contemporary movement, then, is also a counter-cultural form, but as a site, not as a political or cultural movement. These dancers are urbane, educated urban professionals; but they are an elite distancing itself, not engaging with the city, by creating dance spaces as anti-modern refuges.

But they are anti-modern with a difference--they are not technophobes; actually, as noted above, there are a disproportionate numbers of computer programmers and scientists in the community. While some of the more intricately patterned dances seem to appeal to those mathematically inclined, others like Harvard bio-chemistry professor George Whitesides find ECD "serves to provide some humanity in the overall [scientific] enterprise" that is his professional life. (59) The "humanity," however, is found in imagining the pastness of the present. And in this way, the ECD's imagining of itself as a gentry 'folk' may be another commentary on the crisis of modern liberalism, one that is not so removed from the Fabianism of the early folklorists like Cecil Sharp (or his Progressive followers in the U.S.), although the late twentieth-century community is less infected with Sharp's imperial-national vision. As we have noted, the contemporary ECD movement is Anglo-American, but with lots of second and third generation ethnic Americans--at least Jewish-, Irish- and Italian-Americans--who have become "white." That this urban folk identity has no blacks or Hispanics should not be so surprising. The ECD community is in conscious escape from the music and rhythms of mass culture--even if only as a metaphor for fast-paced modern life. In so doing, it appears that past in which the ECD community lives is a cultural form with unintended political consequences. These consequences are integral to the present failure of liberalism and its imprecation in the constitution of middle-class identity in urban America as white, heterosexual and isolated from the working people and racial minorities who make up the urban majority of America's cities.

In their sense of themselves as not quite 'belonging' in the mainstream, this left-liberal professional class fraction retains a foothold in the anti-materialist counterculture. A majority of respondents claim no religious affiliation, but a surprising number go out of their way to add how "spiritual" they are. Hobbies focus disproportionately on crafts and gardening; rather than competitive sports or working-class activities such as bowling, preferred sports activities are hiking and biking, both distinct class status signifiers. What passes for social activism is a kind of civic associational environmentalism--membership in the Sierra Club, for example, a largely white, middle-income advocacy group with class markers congenial to those of the ECD community. Feminists, environmentalists, "spiritual" folk, these left-liberals inhabit a distinctive class sector, affluent yet not quite elite, alternative but also bourgeois, the world of the ECD community has little resonance with the working class or racial minorities whose absence on the dance floor they miss. In fact, their cultural messages signify to those they miss how much they do not fit. In such ways, the history of the modern folkies in the English Country Dance community suggests the extent to which the liberal political project to right inequity and injustice struggles to engage with the messy racialized messages of modern liberal urban culture.

And Labor History?

The ECD folk dance world in which professional-technical workers--computer geeks and social workers, teachers and artists--imagine and dress-up in 'safe' alternative spaces suggests the deficiency of isolating contemporary languages of class from the fantasies and imaginings that direct them. It also illustrates the inadequacy of the modern/anti-modern binary. These men and women work by day to implement the modern, and fantasize and play at night to create what they view as a humane alternative to its 'driving rhythms.' As important, the world of this folkdance class fraction also highlights how leisure, play and consumption coalesce in the liminal spaces of the dance floor and in folk dance 'havens' to forge modern class relations which are properly as much the subject of labor history of the twenty-first century as a history of the middle class. In the carnavalesque elements of the dance--in the politics of playing with the past--dancers bridge languages of class with performances of class at the same time as they refract the modern racial and gender ironies, contradictions and tensions in middle-class subjectivities and fantasies.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the folk dance community is probably better able to envision itself as 'professional' than as a group of professional workers. As liberals concerned with under- and unemployment and social inequality, they evince sympathy for the working class, even as they do not identify with it. But its liminal subjective position is precisely what makes this group an especially useful entry point to modern class analysis; study of these peoples' subjectivity immerses us in the muddy waters of class and the constitution of this 'working middle.'

Taking a page from cultural studies such as the No-Collar examination of computers geeks by Andrew Ross, (60) the folk dance community expands the labor history's horizons beyond those with blue, pink and the occasional white collar. Indeed, historians in and of the modern era must not allow the dominant culture's mystification of work and class to define their work; rather, they must make the problematic character of worker and middle-class subjectivities and all forms of work the subject of their interrogation. Thus, a merger of the insights and methods of cultural studies and social history that engages subjectivity as a dialogue with material conditions promises both to recuperate the world of work and to engage the contradictory subjectivities of those represented in that liminal figure of the modern era--the middle-class worker.

Social and Cultural Analysis

41 East 11th Street, 7th floor

New York, NY 10003


I wish in particular to thank Judith R. Walkowitz, Linda Tompko and Charles Briggs for helpful comments on this material. Earlier versions presented at the Journal of Social History Conference: The Future of Social History, held at George Mason University, October 22-24, 2004 and to the Urban Studies Colloquium at New York University and at the Stanford Humanities Center in 2001-02 also elicited useful suggestions for which I am grateful.

1. The publications in the Illinois University Press series, The Working-Class in American History, reflect this development. The largest and best-recognized series in American labor history, its publications mirrored the nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century scholarship of the original series editors, the doyens of the field--David Brody, Herbert G. Gutman and David Montgomery. These men, if they did not personally train many of the authors, profoundly shaped their work. From 1978 to 2002 the series published 62 volumes, the overwhelming majority of which focused on pre-World War II industrial America. The University of Illinois Press website lists the books in the series: (accessed, July 12, 2004).

2. The grand 'past' of labor history and its limited if not dismal present was a repeated theme in both the discussion and papers presented at the Journal of Social History Conference: The Future of Social History [hereafter, JSH Conference] held at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA., October 22-24, 2004. Several papers formally addressing this shift, including: Jocelyn Wills, "'Money Makes the World Go Round, the World Go Round: Globalization, Social History, and the Resuscitation of Economic Linkages"; Prasannan Parthasarathi, "The State and Social History": Andy Wood, "The Hidden Injuries of Class in Early Modern England."

3. See, the Introduction in Daniel J. Walkowitz, Working With Class: Social Workers and the Politics of Middle-Class Identity (Chapel Hill, 1999).

4. David Halle, America's Working Man: Home, Work, and Politics Among Blue Collar Property Owners (Chicago, 1984).

5. See, William H. Sewell, Jr., "The Concept(s) of Culture," in Bonnell and Hunt, Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture (Berkeley, 1999) 35-36; Geoff Eley, "Is all the World a Text? From Social History to the History of Society Two Decades Later," in Terrence J. McDonald, ed., The Historic Turn in the Human Sciences (Ann Arbor, 1996), 195-200; Peter Burke, "The Origins of Cultural History," in Varieties of Cultural History (Ithaca, 1997), pp. 1-22; and, Ronald Grigor Suny, "Back and Beyond: Reversing the Cultural Turn," American Historical Review 107, no. 5 (December 2002): 476-1499. For an excellent account of the cultural turns on U.S. history, see Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge, UK, 1988), chs. 13-16.

6. This was a project of British cultural Marxism more generally, nicely described in Dennis Dwarkin, Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain: History, the New Left, and the Origins of Cultural Studies (Durham, NC, 1997). Mintz elaborated his view in prefatory material and the content to his many books. See, for example, Sidney W. Mintz, Worker in the Cane, A Puerto Rican Life History (Westport, Conn., 1974), Caribbean Transformations (Chicago, 1974). Clifford Geertz was equally influential: Clifford Geertz, "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture," in Geertz, Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York, 1973). My own dissertation reflected these influences: Daniel J. Walkowitz: "Working-Class Culture in the Gilded Age: Cohoes Cotton Workers and Troy Iron Worker protest, 1855-1884," PhD dissertation, Department of History, University of Rochester, 1972. Among the influential books using this notion of culture are, Roy Rosenzweig, Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920 (New York, 1983); Francis G. Couvares, The Remaking of Pittsburgh: Class and Culture in an Industrializing City, 1877-1919 (Albany, 1984); and, Kathy Lee Peiss, Cheap amusements: working women and leisure in turn-of-the-century New York (Philadelphia, 1986).

7. See Thomas Bender, "Wholes and Parts: The Need for Synthesis in American History," Journal of American History, 73 (1986): 120-136. The most prominent statement on the return of the master narrative was by Lawrence Stone, "The Revival of Narrative," Past & Present 85 (1979): 3-24.

8. In his call to put the State back in social history, Parthasarthathi, op cit., at the 2004 JSH Conference, iterates Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, "The Political Crisis of Social History: A Marxian Perspective" Journal of Social History X, no. 2 (Winter 1976): 17-32, which is updated in a more nuanced form by Walter Johnson, "On Agency," Journal of Social History 37, no. 1 (Fall 2003): 113-24.

9. See, Suny, "Back and Beyond," and Victoria Bonnell and Lynn Hunt, Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture (Berkeley, 1999).

10. Andy Wood, "The Hidden Injuries of Class," 3.

11. Joan Wallach Scott, "Gender: a Useful Category of Historical Analysis," American Historical Review 91 (1986): 1053-75, and, Gender and the Politics of History (New York, 1988); Ava Baron, ed., Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor (Ithaca, 1991); and, Judith R. Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London (Chicago, 1992).

12. The debate emerged publicly in a forum surrounding a 1987 essay by John Scott in International Labor and Working Class History: John W. Scott, "On Language, Gender, and Working-Class History," 31 (Spring): 1-45. Scott's critique of lack of a gendered analysis in Gareth Stedman Jones' book Language of Class initiated an often-heated response by Palmer and others. Palmer's fuller critique appeared in his subsequent book: Bryan D. Palmer, Descent into Discourse: the reification of language and the writing of social history (Philadelphia, 1990). Labor history sessions on the value of the cultural turn dominated national and international conferences for the next decade, often pitting male labor historians against feminist colleagues.

13. Bryan D. Palmer, Cultures of Darkness: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression (New York, 2000).

14. See, for instance, Bonnell and Hunt, Beyond the Cultural Turn; and for a more recent summary of this move, Gabriella M. Spiegel, "Practicing History/Theorizing Practice: Some New Directions in Historical Writing after the Linguistic Turn," forthcoming in Practicing History: New Directions in Historical Writing After the Linguisitic Turn (New York, 2005).

15. Two papers at the JSH Conference argued most emphatically for his move: Simon Gunn, "From Hegemony to Governmantality: Changing Conceptions of Power in Social History," and Peter Borsay, "New Approaches to Social History: Myth, Memory and Place." Especially see as well, Peter Burke, What is Cultural History? (Cambridge, 2004), and Bonnell and Hunt, Beyond the Cultural Turn.

16. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, Richard Nice, trans. (Cambridge, MA, 1984 [1979]).

17. Gunn, 25-26, following Bourdieu, Distinctions (London, 1984), 208, and Pascalian Meditations (Cambridge, 2000), 128-63.

18. Gunn, 25-6.

19. Kate Van Winkle Keller and Charles Cyril Henrickson, George Washington: A Biography in Social Dance (Sandy Hook, CT, 1998).

20. The roots of "The Virginia Reel" in "Sir Roger de Cloverly" had been disclosed in American publications, but do not seem to have been widely known publicly. See, Emil Rath, The Folk Dance in Education (Minneapolis, 1939), 25.

21. This point is well made by Linda J. Tomko, Dancing Class: Gender, Ethnicity, and Social Divides in American Dance, 1890-1920 (Bloomington, IN, 1999), 203-13.

22. My national survey found 107 of 150 respondents found almost equal numbers had done American country or International Folk Dance before 'discovering ECD, most for many years.

23. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Henry Reeve text as rev. by Francis Bowen, and edited by Phillips Bradley (New York, 1980 [1837]; and, Robert D. Putnam, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital," Journal of Democracy 6.1 (January 1995): 65-78, and Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York, 1999).

24. See, Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790-1860 (New York, 1985), xi, xvi, and Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol.1. Robert Hurley, trans. (New York, 1979). These citations appear originally in Andrea Volpe, Andrea. "Cartes de Visite Portrait Photographs and the Culture of Class Formation," The Middling Sorts: Explorations in the History of the American Middle Class. Burton J. Bledstein and Robert D. Johnston, eds. (New York, 2001): 157-69.

25. James W. Cook, The Arts of Deception: Playing With Fraud in the Age of Barnum (Cambridge, MA, 2001), 160; and Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, Richard Nice, trans. (Cambridge, MA, 1984 [1979]).

26. Daniel T. Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, MA, 1998); and, Chris Otter, presentation to the New York University History Department, Feb. 27, 2003.

27. George Lipsitz, "Who'll Stop the Rain: Youth Culture, Rock 'n Roll, and Social Crises," in The Sixties: From Memory to History, David Farber, ed. (Chapel Hill, 1964), 214, 221-23.

28. My argument draws heavily here on Robert M. Collins, "Growth Liberalism in the Sixties: Great Societies at Home and Grand Designs Abroad," in The Sixties, 25-26.

29. Bourdieu, Distinctions, 283.

30. See, Alice Echols, "Nothing Distant About It: Women's Liberation and Sixties Radicalism," in The Sixties, 154-55.

31. My survey found one person who listed herself as mixed race, and she was dancing for only the second time.

32. Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color.

33. Although some had since retired, only a single person interviewed had an occupation outside this profile. Christine Helwig had been a town manager in Westchester County, New York.

34. Christine Helwig, interview with the author and Stephanie Smith, June 11, 1999, New Haven, Ct. The occupational profile is based on personal observations by the author, and reflected in regular comments on the ECD list serve.

35. Gene Murrow, interview with the author, August 29, 2000, Pinewoods camp, Plymouth, MA. Several people in informal discussions told the May Gadd stories with the author at Pinewoods, August 1999, and in an interview with Brad Foster, Director of CDSS, with the author and Stephanie Smith, August 1999, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA. As dancer and historian, I had a sense of these developments and a reading through the archives had confirmed them. Gene Murrow's observation about the 1960s as a new moment in the history of the dance community also struck me as right. ECD's elite character distinguished it from the proletarianism that had shaped the 1930s international folk dance community. But the 1960s folk revivals, which were implicated with popular protest movements, similarly seemed to coincide with the broadening of the ECD movement.

36. Arthur Cornelius, conversation with the author, December 3, 2000, New York City.

37. Murrow interview.

38. Ibid.

39. Mary Alison (psued.), interview with the author, August 29, 2000, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA; Pat Ruggiero, interview with the author, August 28, 2000, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA; Thom Yarnal, interview with the author, August 28, 2000, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.

42. Murrow interview.

43. Sharon Green, interview with the author, August 28, 2000, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA.; Mary Alison (psued.), interview with the author, August 29, 2000, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA.

44. David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000).

45. Jenny Beer, email to the author, December 11, 2000.

46. Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World (New York, 1995); Peiss, Cheap Amusements (Philadelphia, 1986).

47. Glenn Fulbright, interview with the author and Stephanie Smith, June 13, 1999, Lenox, MA

48. Ruggiero and Yarnal interviews.

49. Ruggiero interview.

50. Beer interview.

51. Jenny Beer, interview with the author, August 30, 2000, Pinewoods Camp, Plymouth, MA.

52. Yarnal, Ruggiero, Green, Murrow, Alison and Beer interviews.

53. Ruggiero, Beer, Murrow and Alison interviews.

54. Lara Putnam, "To Study the Fragments/Whole: Microhistory and the Atlantic World," 4, a paper at the 2004 JSH Conference, reminds us of the inscription of race in Atlantic history.

55. See Country Dance and Song Society 2000-2001 Members List (Haydenville, MA, 2000). The society lists about 3600 individual and family members spread over every state in the Union, every Province of Canada. It also has members in 15 countries, mostly in England in Denmark.

56. David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London, 1991); George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Philadelphia, 1998); Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. (Cambridge, MA, 1998); and, Karen Brodkin, How Jews Became White Folks and What that Says about Race in America (New Brunswick, NJ, 1998).

57. See Roedigger, Wages of Whiteness and Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color.

58. I develop how the cities were "blackened" in public imaginings in the 1950s with the rise of suburbs as safe white alternative spaces in Working With Class: Social Workers and the Politics of Middle-Class Identity (Chapel Hill, 1999), ch. 7.

59. George Whitesides, interview with the author and Stephanie Smith, June 14, 1999, Lenox, MA.

60. Andrew Ross, No-Collar: the Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs (New York, 2003).

By Daniel J. Walkowitz

New York University
COPYRIGHT 2006 Journal of Social History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Walkowitz, Daniel J.
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 22, 2006
Previous Article:Part III: reintroducing and refining social structure in social history.
Next Article:Fear, hatred and the hidden injuries of class in early modern England.

Related Articles
Social history present and future.
Losses, gains and opportunities: social history today.
Social history in Europe.
Cultural history/social history: some reflections on a continuing dialogue.
Recent developments in social history.
Part I: social history and spatial scope.
Part III: reintroducing and refining social structure in social history.
Part V: opportunities for the future.
Social history as "sites of memory"? The insitutionalization of history: microhistory and the grand narrative.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters