Jessica Ray Herzogenrath, PhD, teaches, researches and writes on US history, culture, performance, and dance.
In 2002, she completed a BA in History from Northwestern University and promptly left the Windy City for warmer climes. After several years performing, choreographing, and teaching dance in and around Houston, Texas, Jessica decided to further develop her interests, if not talents, in thinking and writing about dance through graduate study. First, she earned an MA in American Dance Studies from the Dance Department at Florida State University in 2009 under the tutelage of Tricia Young, Sally Sommer, and Jennifer Atkins. Following a semester in NYC interning at the Baryshnikov Arts Center and completion of her thesis, Jessica returned to Texas to begin doctoral work in history at Texas A&M University. With the guidance of Julia Blackwelder, Judith Hamera, Harold Livesay, and Carlos Blanton, she successfully defended her dissertation, Thinking American, Working American, Playing American: Folk Dance in Chicago, 1890-1940, in 2014. Along the way Jessica has given several conference presentations, earned a number of research grants, and spent time at the Texas A&M University branch campus at Qatar.
In May 2019, Jessica enjoyed five weeks in the archives of dance writer Ann Barzel as the 2018-2019 John S. Aubrey Fellow at the Newberry Library (Chicago). She also continues work on her book manuscript on dance in early-twentieth-century Chicago, writes for Dance Source Houston, and recently completed the National Arts Strategies Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy through the University of Pennsylvania. Jessica serves as the (founding) board president of the Houston-based dance company Social Movement Contemporary Dance.
In the midst of the global pandemic, Jessica finds herself preparing to return to Aggieland as an Instructional Associate Professor of History (Whoop!). She previously worked as a Coordinator of Research and Proposal Development in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where she also taught in both the dance and history departments.