Marian Wilson Kimber’s “Hymnody, Dance and the Sacred in the Illustrated Song” has recently appeared in the volume Musicology and Dance: Historical and Critical Perspectives published by Cambridge University Press. Wilson Kimber’s chapter delves into women’s practice of posing to hymn tunes, an offshoot of the Delsarte movement in the early twentieth century. It draws on pedagogical materials, press reports of women’s performances, and contemporary understandings of hymnody to explain how musical accompaniments in the “illustrated song” helped to mediate its potentially precarious position within American culture, given its deep suspicion of dance.
Wilson Kimber has also recently joined a team of musicologists writing for the Women’s Song Forum, a new blog devoted to women’s songs and women’s voices. Her first essay explores the American Song Composers’ Festival founded by composer Grace Porterfield Polk in Greenwood, Indiana, in the 1920s in order to encourage American songwriters. Her most recent post considers the reception of Mary Turner Salter’s song, “The Cry of Rachel,” and the songs of peace activist Elisabeth Johnson.