Theatre & Dance ETDs

Publication Date



A more holistic view of the Puritans in seventeenth-century Massachusetts can be reached by looking at their complex relationship with leisure and its manifestation both in their dance practice and attitudes towards dance. This thesis takes a multi-disciplinary approach in bringing to light this understanding, consisting of research into a variety of fields including music, English history, Colonial American history, social dance studies, and theology. Chapter I lays out the theological and historical heritage of the Non-separatist Puritans who sailed to Massachusetts with John Winthrop in 1630. Chapter II progresses through a detailed exploration of Puritan dance examples and analyses from England and New England. Chapter III provides a thorough explication of the first argument in Increase Mathers 1685 tract, An Arrow against Profane and Promiscuous Dancing Drawn Out of the Quiver of Scriptures. From this research the following conclusions can be drawn: the Puritans did dance, both in England and Massachusetts, and the stereotype of Puritans who condemned dance was the result of the Puritan's complex attitudes towards leisure which they saw as an acceptable pursuit, but only when practiced in an orderly manner.

Degree Name

Theatre & Dance

Level of Degree


Department Name

Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Santos Newhall, Mary Anne

First Committee Member (Chair)

Herrera, Brian

Second Committee Member

Avila, Elaine




Puritans -- Massachusetts -- 17th Century, Puritans -- England -- 17th Century, Dance -- History -- 17th Century, Dance -- Social aspects -- England --History -- 17th Century, Leisure -- Massachusetts -- Religious aspects -- 17th Century, Leisure -- England -- Religious aspects -- 17th Century

Document Type