Living statuary in American physical education: Greek revivalism at Springfield College

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This article studies living statuary, a Greek revivalism form of tableau vivant that was performed at Springfield College and other physical education programmes from the 1930s. American physical education curated ‘ancient’ Greece through living statuary, yet rarely reflected on the socio-historical context of their preference for ‘antiquity’. The article argues that living statuary serve as normative discourses for the institutions to which they are attached and concludes by suggesting that living statuary rituals be reinvigorated to represent innovative inclusive understandings of ‘fitness’ and ‘beauty’. Cultural interpretive theory and historical-archival methodology ground the research; the work contributes to curatorial studies, physical education history, and reception studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-223
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Curatorial Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Athletics
  • Greek revivalism
  • Humanics
  • Living statuary
  • Physical education
  • Social memory
  • Springfield College

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Museology


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