Presenter: Rebecca Noel
Rebecca Noel explores the sometimes alarming, sometimes hilarious backstory of what we now know as gym class. Physicians worried since the Renaissance that the sedentary, scholarly life makes people sick. They focused on varying concerns over time: digestive woes, melancholy, tuberculosis, spinal curvature, reproductive weakness. The problem widened along with access to education during the Enlightenment and into the 1800s. Tracing this idea from Europe to the United States, from scholars to children, and from boys' to girls' education, the presentation shows how these fears inspired schools to get children moving. The program concludes with audience discussion of the relevance of this problem to our own times-like the Enlightenment, a moment in history when suddenly many more people live the sedentary lives once limited to a few scholars.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.