Dance and Disruption: Science and Body in the Long Nineteenth Century

deadline for submissions: 
April 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Dance Studies Association Working Group, Dancing the Long Nineteenth Century
contact email: 

Dance and Disruption: Science and Body in the Long Nineteenth Century 

 A Working Symposium hosted by the Dance Studies Association Working Group, Dancing the Long Nineteenth Century 

NEW DATES: August 8-9, 2020, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, USA

The nineteenth century was a time of change in the European-American scientific world, a time that brought about the creation of modern disciplines in general and the differentiation of individual scientific fields in particular, including those focusing on the human body and on human “others,” as understood by researchers engaged in these studies. This gradual isolation of disciplines from one another shaped and constrained individual fields of knowledge, while also creating potential venues for increasingly focused research within specific domains. Such studies also served as justifications for different, even inhumane,  treatment of some subjects of study as compared with others. In the context of this new lens for approaching the world, dance could be considered both a means to form, control, understand, or civilize the body, and a manifestation of bodily failure or excess. Some fundamental questions, to which other perspectives are welcome, follow:

  • To what ends were scientific ideas and language used in the worlds of dance and performance?
    • Teaching
    • Criticism
    • Performance styles
    • Themes
  • How did developments in various science fields affect reception and readings of dance?
    • Emerging theories of evolution
    • Formulation of the field of psychology
    • Awareness of the world’s breadth and variety, through longstanding trade routes and increased circulation of published reports
    • Attention to women’s status, education, and perceived roles
    • Articulation of theories of health and physical education
  • How did emerging technologies allow new effects?
    • In performance 
    • In staging
    • In publicity
  • Did competing perspectives challenge scientific assertions, as evidenced in dance and other bodily expressions and practices, in Europe, the Americas, or elsewhere?
    • Romanticism
    • Religion
    • Race
    • Abolitionism
    • Women’s rights
    • Independence and other resistance movements 

We welcome proposals, on these or other theme-appropriate topics, for individual papers, pre-formed roundtables, performances, or lecture-demonstrations. Interested participants should submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a biography of approximately 100 words by April 30, 2020, to Notifications will be sent out to applicants by May 31st.

For queries regarding programming, please contact Lynn Matluck Brooks ( or Cara Gargano ( For queries regarding logistics, please contact Olivia Sabee ( Symposium registration fees will be kept as low as possible, between $50 and $100, to be determined closer to the meeting date.