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Chantal Frankenbach
University Enterprises, Inc. (Sacramento, CA 95819-2694)
Isadora Duncan and the Popularization of Race Hygiene and Eugenics in Pre-War Germany, 1902-1905

Research and writing of a book about American modern dancer Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), her early career in Germany (1902-1905), and pre-World War I German culture and politics.

My book project documents American modern dancer Isadora Duncan’s early career in Germany (1902-1905), where her wildly popular revolt against traditional ballet animated debate across the political spectrum. Coupled with her nearly nude “classical” dancing, Duncan’s writings on Darwinist evolution and her demands for clothing, health, and education reform generated intense interest from the German public. A storm of controversy over Duncan pitted proponents of classical humanism and liberal democracy against neo-conservative nationalist reformers—all struggling for the public’s allegiance at a critical turning point in pre-war German politics. I argue that Duncan’s display of the strong, beautiful, natural body gave inadvertent, yet tangible support to the early architects of German Aryanism and National Socialism. Through critical reaction to Duncan’s hold on a politically disenchanted citizenry, we discover new narratives of public persuasion that facilitated Nazism in Germany.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Cultural History; Dance History and Criticism; European History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 7/31/2021