"Whether in the pages of a trashy novel, in the glow of gaslights, in a dance hall, or on the walls of art galleries, the figure of the female dancer haunts nineteenth-century French culture. Artists and writers of all kinds took on la danseuse as an emblem of their own artistic prowess. They represented her alternately as an elusive ideal, a saucy prostitute, or a dangerous seductress. Dancers, in turn, produced their own images, novels and autobiographies, thereby contributing to an ongoing cultural debate around performance, spectatorship, desire, and art. In this interdisciplinary study of la danseuse, Julie Townsend examines the rise and fall of classical ballet, the phenomenon of the music hall, and the birth of modern dance. She highlights moments of representational crisis and emergent aesthetics in her consideration of poetry, novels, painting, early film, and women's autobiography."