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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Kirsten Ronald

Doctoral Student



Kirsten Ronald wasn't born in Texas, but she got here as fast as she could. She received her B.A. in English and her B.S. in Operations and Quality Management from the University of Maryland in 2003. In 2011, she received her M.A. in American Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. She is an ethnographer, oral historian, and cultural geographer who studies social dance in the neoliberal city.

Kirsten's research examines Austin's changing urban landscape through the city's social dance communities. Current projects focus on the relationship between the mobile body and gentrification, myth and the landscape, and the gendered dancing body. Projected research applications include venue and community design, cultural preservation, and active lifestyle policy development, as well as ongoing work on race, class, gender, and sexuality in American culture.

Kirsten is currently an Assistant Instructor in American Studies, where she teaches an undergraduate course in social dance and American culture. She also runs a local dance studio and moonlights as a cheesemonger. She has taught dance workshops at Texas State and The University of Texas at Austin, and her two-step classes were recently featured on American Canvas, an arts-based travel show on Ovation TV. She plans to graduate in May 2016.


social dance, Texas history & culture, gentrification, mobility studies, gender studies, and space & place

AMS 311S • Dancing In America

30850 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 900am-1000am GAR 2.128
show description

For generations, dancing - from polka to hip hop - has helped ordinary Americans make sense of the world around them.  In this class, you will learn about social, or popular, dancing in America by learning how to do dances ranging from salsa and Lindy Hop to the lawnmower and the wobble - and you'll use these American dance forms to examine broader patterns of cultural change since World War I.  Some of the issues we'll investigate include race, technology, and dance in the segregated ballrooms of the 1930s; immigration and exile in the 1950s Latin dance craze; globalization, Urban Cowboy, and 1970s Texas chic; and the seductive female body in contemporary burlesque.  We'll also try on a variety of tools for studying dance, including visual analysis, historical research, and participant observation.  For your final project, you'll get to put these tools (and maybe even your dance skills) to work in the real world and see how people use social dancing to make sense of American culture in contemporary Austin.                      


Participation                  20%

peer review                   10%

3 unit response papers      30%

final project on social dance in Austin      40%


Possible Texts

Julie Malnig, Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake

Sherril Dodds, Dancing on the Canon

Course Reader

Flag(s): Writing

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