Fonds F0729 - Penelope Doob fonds

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Penelope Doob fonds

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  • Textual record
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Physical description

3.59 m of textual records
73 photographs : b&w slides ; 35 mm
52 photographs : b&w and col. ; 25 x 20 cm or smaller

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Biographical history

Penelope Billings Reed Doob, medievalist, dance scholar, and medical researcher, was born on 16 August 1943 in Hanover, New Hampshire. She was the daughter of Thomas Lloyd Reed, professor of art history, and Betsey Mook Reed, a teacher of apparel design, at the Rhode Island School of Design.
During the 1960s she received training as an immunologist at the Dartmouth Medical School before becoming a medievalist and dance historian. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in 1965, a Master of Arts from Stanford University in 1967, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1970 with a specialty in English Literature from 1300 to 1500.

Doob joined York University’s English department in 1969. She was also appointed to the Graduate Faculty of Dance in 1989 and English in 1972. Doob served as Associate Principal (Academic) of Glendon College from 1982 to 1985, Associate Vice President (Faculties) of York University from 1986 to 1989, Academic Director of the Centre for the Support of Teaching from 1994 to 1997, and Dean of the Department of Dance from 2001 to 2006.

Her primarily fields of research and scholarly contributions focus on medieval studies (especially vernacular literature), Chaucer, Ricardian poetry, the history of ideas, and medieval dance. Doob authored ‘Nebauchadnezzar’s Children: Conventions of Madness in Middle English Literature’ in 1974 and ‘The Idea of the Labyrinth from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages’ in 1990. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1974 for her research on medieval English literature.

Her secondary field of research focuses on dance history and criticism. She wrote numerous commissioned pieces and reviews for ‘Dance in Canada,’ ‘Dance Magazine,’ ‘Ballet News,’ ‘Ballet International,’ ‘the Globe and Mail,’ and National Ballet of Canada publications including newsletters, historical notes for over 30 repertoires, official artist biographies, and lectures. Doob hosted ‘The Dance’, a CBC-FM radio production from 1976 to 1979. She conceived and prepared historical and critical programs which included interviews with international stars including Sir Kenneth MacMillan, John Neumeier, and Erik Bruhn, and young Canadian artists including choreographer James Kudelka. She also co-authored Karen Kain’s autobiography ‘Movement Never Lies.’ Her community contributions included serving as the founding Chair of the Corps de ballet International, a charter member of the Canadian Society for Dance Studies, as a long-time director of the Actors’ Fund of Canada (1993-2006), on the board of the World Dance Alliance (2001-2005) and co-chairing its Education and Training Network (2001-2009).

Doob had considered a medical career and was awarded the National Science Foundation Medical Research Fellow (1964 and 1965). Her research in medicine includes “The Relation of Thymic Chimerism to Actively Acquired tolerance” in ‘Annals of the New York Academy of Science’ (1964) and “Entry of Lymph Node Cells into the Normal Thymus” in ‘Transplantation’ (1966). In the 1980s, Doob returned to research medicine by taking on a leading role in the development of a palliative experimental HIV drug since her friend was one of the first people to receive the drug and it was at risk of being abandoned due to lack of funding to develop it. She conducted studies with DK MacFadden on the uses of Peptide T in HIV and other diseases with whom she co-founded Reed McFadden, a medical research company. During this time, she was affiliated with the Toronto Western Hospital as a part-time research associate from 1989 to 1994, when an Australian-Danish pharmaceutical company assumed responsibility for the subsequent development of the drug.

She retired in 2014 at the rank of Professor Emerita and died in March 2017.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records documenting Doob’s activities as a professor at York University and scholar of medieval studies, dance, and medicine. A small amount of personal memorabilia and ephemera of her early life related to her education are included.

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Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German

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Files with student assignments have been restricted as the information about third parties.

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Fonds comprises the following accessions: 2018-035. No further accrual expected.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2019/05/01 KCP. Created.
2020/03/28 KCP. Added access point(s).

Language of description

  • English


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