Date of Award

Spring 4-25-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Lynn


This project investigates the role of dance in the modernist novel and the way that both D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf engaged with new forms of dance in order to amplify their literary innovations. I focus on four novels, two by Lawrence (The Rainbow and Women in Love) and two by Woolf (The Waves and The Years). The concept of natural dancing, understood as dance that engages with the natural environment and the natural body, is central to my investigation of dance in the novel. I first argue that the French Symbolist theory of the impersonal dancer as a symbol for the creation of poetry, central to recent critical work on the relationship between dance and literature during the modernist period, is inadequate in considerations of the novel. In the novel, the dancer loses her symbolic impersonality through a connection with her surrounding environment and a commitment to individual expression. In Lawrence’s novels, I demonstrate that dance movements inspired by the natural environment are a means for self-definition and expression in rejection of constraining societal norms and relationships. In Woolf’s novels, dance connects natural cycles with the human experience of life in order to create a choreographic form for the novel. I conclude with the suggestion that the modernist novel is structured similarly to modern dance choreography.

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