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Title: Matriarchy and nation : mothering English ballet, 1920-1939
Author: Martin, Carol A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 1288
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis is presented in three parts. In the first, I offer a detailed theoretical and methodological framework for a historical analysis of English ballet, from 1920-1939, framed within the metaphoric landscape of the 'mother' and 'mothering'. Whilst embracing the impact of cultural studies, the research is underpinned by a philosophical enquiry into the nature of history as a narrative in which events never tell their own story. From this perspective, the ‘birth of English ballet’ emerges as a discourse on ballet, gender and nation in which women are central. In Part Two, I present an analytical model informed by Pierre Bourdieu's (1993) cultural 'field', but developed in relation to specific, historically situated examples of ballet practice. The model represents a radical shift in locating dance teaching and the woman teacher at the centre of ballet practice. At the same time, the social, cultural and economic context of England between two world wars provides a new critical lens for rethinking a firmly established and largely unchallenged ballet history Part Three comprises a series of historical narratives on identity, representation and meaning in the metaphoric 'mother of English ballet'. The studies include the matriarchal structure of the newly created Royal Academy of Dancing, the discourse of mother nation and its embodiment in the emigre ballet teacher, family and patriotism in the British Ballet Organization, and reflections of the maternal muse in Noel Streatfeild's novel Ballet Shoes (1936). The research demonstrates the opportunities and challenges of a dance history informed by cultural theory but equally mindful of the politics of historical representation. Whilst adding to the existing body of knowledge on early twentieth century English ballet, the thesis reveals the wider potential of Bourdieu's work in the study of dancing pasts and explores the the rich borderspace between feminist and narrative history.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available