Salomania and the Representation of Race and Gender in Modern Erotic Dance
Salomania and the Representation of Race and Gender in Modern Erotic Dance situates the 1908 dance craze, which The New York Times called “Salomania,” as a crucial event and a turning point in the history of the modern business of erotic dance. Framing Salomania with reference to imperial ideologies of motherhood and race, it works toward better understanding the increasing value of the display of the undressed female body in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
This study turns critical attention to cultures of maternity in the late 19th century, primarily with reference to the ways in which women are defined in relation to their genitals as patriarchal property and space and are valued according to reproduction as their primary labour. Erotic dance as it takes shape in the modern representation of Salome insists both that the mother is and is not visible in the body of the dancer, a contradiction this study characterizes as reproductive fetishism.
Looking at a range of media, the study traces the modern figure of Salome through visual art, writing, early psychoanalysis and dance, from "hootchie kootch" to the performances dancer Maud Allan called “mimeo-dramatic” to mid-20th-century North American films such as Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard and Charles Lamont's Salome, Where She Danced to the 21st-century HBO series The Sopranos.
“In this deeply researched book, Cecily Devereux engages psychoanalytic theory to examine how the figure of Salome has been deployed as a reproductive fetish to affirm white heteropatriarchal imperialist objectives from the late nineteenth century to the present. Through insightful analyses of theatrical performances, novellas, films (Sunset Boulevard), and recent television shows (The Sopranos), Devereux situates longstanding fascination with the “daughter of Herodias” within the intertwined histories of erotic dance, white femininity, and Euro-imperial expansion. Timely and invigorating, Salomania and the Representation of Race and Gender in Modern Erotic Dance makes an exciting contribution to interdisciplinary feminist scholarship.” – Marlis Schweitzer, York University, author of Bloody Tyrants and Little Pickles: Stage Roles of Anglo-American Girls in the Nineteenth Century
“Cecily Devereux’s Salomania and the Representation of Race and Gender in Modern Erotic Dance offers a wealth of new information. The book poignantly reveals the spectacle of middle-class whiteness behind the racialized Salome craze as well as the sexualized labour of the erotic dance industry. Drawing on an impressive corpus including dance, visual art, postcards, literature, and film, this beautifully illustrated book is a boon for scholars and all those interested in the Salome phenomenon.” – Irene Gammel, Toronto Metropolitan University, author of I Can Only Paint: The Story of Battlefield Artist Mary Riter Hamilton