Sports in the Western World
Since the earliest days of the silent era, American filmmakers have been drawn to the visual spectacle of sports and their compelling narratives of conflict, triumph, and individual achievement. In Contesting Identities Aaron Baker examines how these cinematic representations of sports and athletes have evolved over time--from The Pinch Hitter and Buster Keaton's College to White Men Can't Jump, Jerry Maguire, and Girlfight. He focuses on how identities have been constructed and transcended in American society since the early twentieth century.
Whether depicting team or individual sports, these films return to that most American of themes, the master narrative of self-reliance. Baker shows that even as sports films tackle socially constructed identities like class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender, they ultimately underscore transcendence of these identities through self-reliance.
Looking at films from almost every sporting genre--with a particular focus on movies about boxing, baseball, basketball, and football--Contesting Identities maps the complex cultural landscape depicted in American sports films and the ways in which stories about "subaltern" groups winning acceptance by the mainstream majority can serve to reinforce the values of that majority.
In addition to discussing the genre's recurring dramatic tropes, from the populist prizefighter to the hot-headed rebel to the "manly" female athlete, Baker also looks at the social and cinematic impacts of real-life sports figures from Jackie Robinson and Babe Didrikson Zaharias to Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.
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FROM RITUAL TO RECREATION THE BEGINNINGS OF SPORT
The Competitive Impulse
Organized Greek Games
The Decline and Fall of Athletics
Medieval People at Play
SPORTS IN AN EXPANDING WORLD FROM THE RENAISSANCE TO THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
The Day of the Scholar Athlete
IN SUNSHINE AND SHADOW SPORTS IN THE AGE OF CONFLICT
The Shaping of Modern Sports
Days Dark and Golden
Coping With Depression
Testing the Super Race
YESTERDAYS SPORTS PAGE DOMINANT THEMES SINCE 1945
Breaking Barriers Through Sports
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