Gollance, Sonia

Core Areas

Jewish studies, German and Austrian literature and culture, Yiddish literature and culture, (literary) dance studies, gender studies

Current Research

My postdoctoral project considers the broad question of what makes a body in motion particularly vulnerable to humiliation. A cultural practice which creates bodily refinement and harmony can also be twisted into a grotesque mockery of aesthetic values. I trace the role of dance in antisemitic portrayals of Jews and works by Jews that depict antisemitism. My study promises to interrogate a corpus of literature, film, and graphic arts from the Enlightenment through the Holocaust that puts canonical texts in conversation with popular culture. Texts such as “Der Jud’ im Dorn” (The Jew in the Brambles) of the Brothers Grimm convey the belief that Jews lack the aesthetic qualities of grace and harmony, elements of classical dance. Through the study of aesthetics and body movement, we can better see the various forms of antisemitism, how it defined the Jew in all aspects of his or her life, and the ways in which discrimination becomes embodied.


I received my PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. My dissertation, which I am developing into a book manuscript, analyzed literary representations of the controversial Jewish cultural practice of mixed-sex dancing.

Recent Publications

  • Sonia Gollance, “Gesture, Repertoire, and Emotion: Yiddish Dance Practice in German and Yiddish Literature,” Jewish Social Studies [forthcoming].
  • Sonia Gollance, “’A valtz from the land of valtzes!’: Dance as a Form of Americanization in Abraham Cahan’s Fiction,” Dance Chronicle [forthcoming, 2018].
  • Sonia Gollance, “A Dance: Fradel Shtok Reconsidered,” In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies(Dec. 2017) [online].
  • Sonia Gollance, “’Spaß mit der schönen Jüdin’: Mixed Space and Dancing in Karl Emil Franzos’s Judith Trachtenberg,”Austrian Studies 24: Jews and Austrian Culture (2016), ed. Deborah Holmes and Lisa Silverman, pp. 65-78 [Awarded Women in German Best Article Prize].