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Susan Manning

Professor of English, Theatre, and Performance Studies; Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor; Chair of the Department of English

Ph.D. Columbia University
  • 847-491-5120
  • University Hall 406
  • Office Hours: Thursdays 2-4 and by appointment. Please contact for Chair-related business.


Susan Manning currently serves as Chair of English and is jointly appointed between English, Theatre, and Performance Studies. As the Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor, she pursues her research in the emergent discipline of dance studies within the more established fields of drama, theatre, and performance studies. At Northwestern she serves on the executive committees of the Black Arts Initiative and the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Theatre and Drama.

She is the author of three 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. In addition, she has co-edited three anthologies: New German Dance Studies (2012) surveys research by scholars inside and outside Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernist Dance (2020) expands the canon and conceptualization of dance modernism. Futures of Dance Studies (2020), the capstone for a seven-year Mellon grant, highlights how emerging scholars in the field have amplified earlier paradigms for inquiry. Manning also works as a dramaturge: she has written extensively about her collaboration with Milwaukee-born and Brooklyn-based choreographer Reggie Wilson on his 2013 work, Moses(es), and she currently works with the Berlin-born and Chicago-based choreographer Nejla Yatkin. 


Gender Studies, Theatre & Drama, Modern, Critical Race & Ethnicity Studies, American: 20th Century


Futures of Dance Studies
Futures of Dance Studies (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020)
(edited by Susan Manning, Janice Ross, & Rebecca Schneider)
New German Dance Studies
New German Dance Studies (University of Illinois Press, 2012)
(edited by Susan Manning & Lucia Ruprecht)
Danse Noires, Blanches Amériques
Danse Noires, Blanches Amériques (Centre National de la Danse, 2009)
Modern Dance, Negro Dance: Race in Motion
Modern Dance, Negro Dance: Race in Motion (Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2004)

Other Major Publications

"On Reggie Wilson and Moses(es)," TDR 59.1 (Spring 15): 12-66.
A special section by Susan Manning. [more]
"Mary Wigman e la danza tedesca del primo Novecento" (Italiano Studi Germanici, 2015).
Italian translation of "Ecstasy and the Demon: Feminism and Nationalism in the Dances of Mary Wigman."

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