Susan Manning Affiliated Faculty, Associate Professor in English, Theatre, and Performance Studies

Susan A Manning has pursued her research interest in dance studies, an emergent discipline within the humanities, by working through the more established fields of drama, theatre, and performance studies. As a Professor of English, Theatre and Performance Studies at Northwestern University, she teaches the history and theory of twentieth-century theatrical performance, including dance, drama, and music theatre.

She is the author or editor of four books. Ecstasy and the Demon (1993; 2nd ed. 2006) traces the shift from modernist bodies to fascist bodies in the works of Mary Wigman, Germany’s leading dancer between the two world wars. Modern Dance, Negro Dance: Race in Motion (2004) explores changing relations between modern dancers and African-American concert dancers in New York City from the Red Decade of the 1930s to the Red Scare of the 1950s. Danses noires/blanche Amérique (2008), the catalogue for an exhibit she curated at the Centre national de la danse in Paris, narrates the history of African-American theatre dance in the U.S. from the era of Plessy v Ferguson to the election of Barack Obama. New German Dance Studies (2012) is a co-edited anthology that surveys new research by scholars inside and outside Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In all Professor Manning's teaching and research, gender and sexuality are significant categories of analysis. Her course on "Men Dancing" demonstrates to what extent the professional dance world has served as a site for gay culture since the early twentieth century. Her course on "Feminisms and the Twentieth-Century American Stage" demonstrates how female dance and theatre artists enact changing images of female subjectivity and desire that resonate with the changing countours of feminism in 20th and 21st century United States.


  • Ecstasy and the Demon (1993; 2nd ed. 2006)
  • Modern Dance, Negro Dance: Race in Motion (2004)
  • Danses noires/blanche Amérique (2008)
  • New German Dance Studies (2012)

Courses Taught

  • "Men Dancing"
  • "Feminism and the 20th Century American Stage"