Teaching Dance and Philosophy to Non Majors: The Integration of Movement Practices and Thought Experiments to Articulate Big Ideas

In Rebecca Farinas & Julie Van Camp (eds.), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Dance and Philosophy. London, UK: pp. 20-35 (2021)
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Philosophers sometimes wonder whether academic work can ever be truly interdisciplinary. Whether true interdisciplinarity is possible is an open question, but given current trends in higher education, it seems that at least gesturing toward such work is increasingly important. This volume serves as a testament to the fact that such work can be done. Of course, while it is the case that high-level theoretical work can flourish at the intersection of dance and philosophy, it remains to be seen how we might share this with undergraduate students. For many of us in philosophy and dance, a large number of the students we teach are neither philosophy nor dance majors. As such, we are familiar with the challenge of convincing our students to care about our fields. Both philosophy and dance, qua disciplines on a college campus, face similar challenges. These disciplines are often deeply misunderstood, frequently presumed to be “impractical” (a powerful, but confused objection), intimidating, and frivolous. In this chapter, we offer an account of the course we co-taught at Southern Utah University in the Spring of 2016 titled “Movement and Space” as a rough framework for how to introduce the intersection between philosophy and dance to students. We simultaneously attempted to break students of their misconceptions about philosophy and dance, and worked to engage students and professors alike in a truly interdisciplinary educational experience. Treating philosophy as an embodied endeavor, and employing philosophical concepts through the act of dance encouraged students and faculty alike to rethink the fundamental nature of aesthetics.

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Kristopher G. Phillips
Eastern Michigan University


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