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Beyond the Gymnasium: Educating the Middle Class Bodies in Classical Germany
Sometimes a social movement is intimately tied to physical movement—as Moravian professor Heikki Lempa describes in his new book, Beyond the Gymnasium: Educating the Middle Class Bodies in Classical Germany (Lexington Press, 2007). In the eighteenth century, French court dances set the standards of upper and middle class conduct in Europe; the gymnastics movement challenged this tradition by promoting vigorous physical exercise and egalitarian social interaction. A subsequent ban on gymnastics contributed to the rapid spread of dancing clubs, ballrooms, public promenades, and spas. Beyond the Gymnasium explores forms of social recognition in dancing, greeting, and walking, and discovers that the German middle class displayed an aptitude for social recognition of asymmetrical relationships.