Dr. Johanna Heil (Philipps University, Marburg): "From Devilish Dancing and Wicked Waltzing to American Modern Dance"

Thursday, 11.01.2018, 10:15-11:45 a.m., U5/02.22

From the early Puritan settlements until the late nineteenth century, religious and political authorities accused dancing of compromising the morals of men and especially women, of being undemocratic, vain, and idle. This had serious repercussions for the European settlers as well as for Native American and African American communities, for whom dancing played and still plays an integral role in cultural and spiritual contexts. In the social and cultural reconfigurations of the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century, women dancers were able to promote dancing as a significant art form, a serious social and political practice, and a cultural heritage. Tracing the cultural history of dance in the U.S., Johanna Heil will explore anti-dance sentiments from the Mathers to the late nineteenth century and show that dance practices are often also forms of race, class, and gender resistance.

 Dr. Johanna Heil is a Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin at the Department of English and American Studies and Referentin of the Center for Gender Studies and Feminist Research at Philipps-Universität Marburg. She received her Ph.D. from Marburg University in 2013, and was a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The New School, and Barnard College. Among her publications are articles on Richard Powers’s fiction and American modern dance, her monograph Walking the Möbius Strip: An Inquiry into Knowing in Richard Powers’s Fiction (Winter, 2016), and the co-edited collection Communicating Disease: Cultural Representations of American Medicine (Winter, 2013). She is working on her second book project, which explores the implications of modern(ist) ideas of authenticity and corporeal materiality for the construction of subjectivity and freedom in American modern dance techniques. She spent a semester as a full time student at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance (2014-2015) and received training in Duncan and Dunham technique.