The Curse of the Traveling Dancer: Romani Representation from Nineteenth-Century European Literature to Hollywood Film and Beyond


Dissertation Fellowships in East European Studies


Languages, Literatures, and Cultures


This project deconstructs the exoticizing portrayal of the Roma in European and US fiction and film, tracing its evolution from nineteenth century French and Russian Literature, through early Hollywood film adaptations, to Communist cinema in the Soviet Union and the Balkans, and finally to European cinematic coproductions created after the fall of the Berlin Wall. All of these texts limit Romani protagonists to either errant, timeless musicians, dancers, or criminals. This study analyzes the visualization and perpetuation of consistently restrictive social roles for the Roma as the result of three defining moments: the emergence of nationalism as an ideology in the nineteenth century; the genesis of the motion picture as a dominant medium in the early twentieth century; and the Cold War ethos.