Dancing on the Threshold

A Cultural Concept for Conditions of Being Far from Salvation

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
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  • 1 Goethe University of Frankfurt g.rohmann@em.uni-frankfurt.de
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“Dancing mania” and “St. Vitus dance” were culturally formed illness concepts that enabled late medieval people in the Rhine area to act out states of liminality. The semiotics of these trace back to ancient Platonic cosmology, which had been transmitted into medieval theology by late antique Neoplatonism. In this article the iteration of these motifs especially through the early and high Middle Ages is scrutinized. When “dancing mania” emerged in the fourteenth century it was thus neither an early case of mass hysteria nor a particular form of religious deviance, as is still assumed frequently.

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