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SSI1-149 | Transgressive Bodies


Welcome to the course guide for SSI1-149: Transgressive Bodies. This guide will give you information about getting started with your research, suggested books, databases, and other media, and information on writing & citing. Please contact your librarian if you have any questions or need help! 

Types of Sources

In academic research, it's important to be able to distinguish between different types of sources.  These differences often are contextual, meaning that a single source might fit in different categories depending on how you are using it and in what academic discipline you are writing.

Primary sources are the raw materials of scholarship.

Secondary sources report on or interpret primary sources.

Tertiary sources synthesize and present overviews of primary and secondary sources.

Scholarly sources present sophisticated, researched arguments using both primary and secondary sources and are written by experts.

Popular sources aim to inform or entertain and are intended for a general, non-specialized audience.  In academic writing, popular sources most often are analyzed as primary sources.

Background Sources: Online Reference Collections

These online collections will introduce you to a wealth of dictionaries and encyclopedias saving you hours of research time later on by helping you define and refine the parameters of your research question.

Here's what subject encyclopedias provide:

  • a broad overview of a topic that is more in-depth than in general encyclopedias
  • Discussion of how scholars have approached, explored, and debated the topic over time (historiography)
  • words, phrases, names, dates, and events that can be used as keywords when searching a database
  • bibliographies in articles to find other sources (both primary and secondary)
  • cross-references to find related topics

Start with Primo

Primo is library search tool for finding materials in the Collins Library, Summit libraries and libraries worldwide. It includes books, ebooks, selected articles, images, videos, and more!

Examples of subject terms appear below. Copy and paste the terms in Primo's search box.

Modern Dance Political Aspects

Modern Dance Social Aspects

Modern Dance Philosophy

Modern Dance History 20th Century

Postmodern Dance

Ballet History

Sex in Dance

Women Dancers
Male Dancers

Dancers Biography

Choreographers Biography

Mary Wigman

Isadora Duncan

Alvin Ailey

Bill T. Jones

Serge Diaghilev

George Balanchine

From Topic to Research Question

Research typically begins with a topic that has piqued your curiosity.  When you're researching a topic, you typically are interested in questions of who, what, where and when.

As you learn more about your chosen topic, however, you'll discover that scholars may have different approaches and arguments about the topic, and you'll start to ask your own research questions.  Research questions typically begin with why or how:

Call Number Location Chart

Looking for the location of a print book?

The call number location chart identifies the floor where the call number may be found in the book stacks.
Tip: Print books about dance are generally classified as GV 1580 - GV 1835, on the second floor. You'll also find dance music in ML 1450 and ballets (full scores, piano scores, excerpts) in M 1520 - ML 1526.

Featured Books About Choreographers

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Ecstasy and the Demon

Mary Wigman, Germany's premier dancer between the two world wars, envisioned the performer in the thrall of ecstatic and demonic forces. Widely hailed as an innovator of dance modernism, she never acknowledged her complex relationship with National Socialism.

Done into Dance

This cultural study of modern dance icon Isadora Duncan is the first to place her within the thought, politics and art of her time.

Modern Bodies

In 1930, dancer and choreographer Martha Graham proclaimed the arrival of "dance as an art of and from America." Dancers such as Doris Humphrey, Ted Shawn, Katherine Dunham, and Helen Tamiris joined Graham in creating a new form of dance, and, like other modernists, they experimented with and argued over their aesthetic innovations, to which they assigned great meaning.

Stravinsky and Balanchine

Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine, among the most influential artists of the 20th century, together created the music and movement for many ballet masterpieces. This is a study of one of the greatest artistic collaborations in history.
Note: Also available as an ebook

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Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey's embodiment of African American culture

In the early 1960s, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was a small, multi-racial company of dancers that performed the works of its founding choreographer and other emerging artists. By the late 1960s, the company had become a well-known African American artistic group closely tied to the Civil Rights struggle.

Primo Search Tips

When using Primo, try these searching techniques:

  • Scopes are different collections to search.  Change scopes by using the drop down menu next to the search box. The default scope is 'Collins, Summit, and Articles.' It includes items owned, subscribed to, or accessible by Collins Library, and items owned by the 39 academic libraries in the Orbis Cascade Alliance. Selected articles subscribed to by Collins Library are available. Search individual databases for more comprehensive results.
  • Use "advanced search" for more precise searching.
  • Use quotes to search for "exact titles."
  • Use the facets in the right-hand sidebar to quickly navigate through search results.
  • When you find an item that seems relevant, look at its subject terms to find similar items. To do this, simply click on one of the subject headings listed in the record for the book; the next screen will list all the books that share this subject term.
  • Don't forget to sign in! When you sign in to Primo, you are able to do the following:
    • Access your account to view what you currently have checked out
    • Request or renew items
    • Access externally licensed resources
    • Save items from your results list and searches you have performed for future use
    • Set preferences to reflect the way you usually search and save them for future sessions

Featured Books About Dance

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Dance & Politics: Moving Beyond Boundaries

In this book Dana Mills examines the political power of dance from a global perspective. Mills explores different dimensions of dance as a form of intervention into a politics more commonly articulated in words.

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Dancing Women

Dancing Women: Female Bodies Onstage is a spectacular and timely contribution to dance history, recasting canonical dance since the early nineteenth century in terms of a feminist perspective. Setting the creation of specific dances in socio-political and cultural contexts, Sally Banes shows that choreographers have created representations of women that are shaped by - and that in part shape - society's continuing debates about sexuality and female identity.


Dance's galvanizing and transformative presence in art and theory over the last decade becomes part of a broader investigation of its dialogue with modernism's legacies. This collection surveys the choreographic turn in the artistic imagination from the 1950s onwards, and in doing so outlines the philosophies of movement instrumental to the development of experimental dance.

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Queer Dance

Queer Dance brings together artists and scholars in a multi-platformed project-book, accompanying website, and live performance series to ask, "How does dancing queerly progressively challenge us?"

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No Fixed Points

The volume is magisterial in scope, encompassing the history of theatrical dance from 1900 through 2000. Beginning with turn-of-the-century dancer-choreographers like Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Michel Fokine, and a bit later Vaslav Nijinsky, and proceeding through the profusion of dance styles performed today, the book provides an unparalleled view of dance in performance as it changed and grew in the twentieth century.

Dance Marathons performing American culture of the 1920s and 1930s

This penetrating analysis of one of the most extraordinary fads ever to strike America details how dance marathons manifested a potent from of drama. Between the two world wars they were a phenomenon in which working-class people engaged in emblematic struggles for survival.

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Dance for Export: Cultural Diplomacy and the Cold War

A little-known episode in the history of dance that illuminates the broader subject of cultural policy during the Cold War era.

Modern Moves

Modern Moves traces the movement of American social dance styles between black and white cultural groups and between immigrant and migrant communities during the early twentieth century.