The University of Wisconsin Press

Dance / Education / Women’s Studies / American Studies

Moving Lessons
Margaret H'Doubler and the Beginning of Dance in American Education
Janice Ross

"One of the best dance books of the decade."
—Mindy Aloff, dance critic for the New Republic

Moving Lessons is an insightful and sophisticated look at the origins and influence of dance in American universities, focusing on Margaret H'Doubler, who established the first university courses and the first degree program in dance (at the University of Wisconsin). Dance educator and historian Janice Ross shows that H'Doubler (1889–1982) was both emblematic of her time and an innovator who made deep imprints in American culture. An authentic "New Woman," H'Doubler emerged from a sheltered female Victorian world to take action in the public sphere. She changed the way Americans thought, not just about female physicality but also about higher education for women.

Ross brings together many discourses—from dance history, pedagogical theory, women's history, feminist theory, American history, and the history of the body—in intelligent, exciting, and illuminating ways and adds a new chapter to each of them. She shows how H'Doubler, like Isadora Duncan and other modern dancers, helped to raise dance in the eyes of the middle class from its despised status as lower-class entertainment and "dangerous" social interaction to a serious enterprise. Taking a nuanced critical approach to the history of women's bodies and their representations, Moving Lessons fills a very large gap in the history of dance education.

"An impeccable work of archival scholarship and interpretive history, Ross's explorations of H'Doubler's biography, the details of her classes, and the more abstract unpacking of philosophical theories of learning are both inspiring and intelligent."—Sally Banes, author of Dancing Women: Female Bodies on Stage

"Intimate histories of dance in the American University are extremely rare. Janice Ross has written one that is not only a pleasure to read, it is a major contribution to understanding the development of dance in American higher education."—Elliot W. Eisner, professor of art and the Lee Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University

"One of the best dance books of the decade. In focusing on H'Doubler, a complicated woman who combined both vision and short-sightedness, Ross offers a fascinating look at how a generation of academic women exerted influence in universities during a moment when women were in the minority among faculty and administrators."— Mindy Aloff, dance critic for New Republic

Janice Ross is a faculty member in the Drama Department and a lecturer in the School of Education at Stanford University. A nationally known dance scholar and critic, she has written about dance for many publications, including Dancemagazine, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Oakland Tribune.

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August 2000
LC: 00-008344 GV
336 pp.   6 x 9   38 b/w photos,
3 line drawings

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Paper $24.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-16934-3
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“Janice Ross’ timely, reader-friendly compilation of dance, history, biography, educational philosophy and women’s studies reminds us of the power and sense of developing both an intellectual and physical body, particularly as we turn a new century and direct our society toward a more sedentary technological lifestyle.”
—Maureen Janson, Capital Times

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Updated 10/13/2014

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