Contesting Identities: Sports in American Film

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University of Illinois Press, 2003 - Performing Arts - 162 pages
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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."A must-read for cinephiles and sports fans alike, Contesting Identites is a knock-out. Aaron Baker cogently combines previous work on identities, sports, and media and moves discussion to new levels. His analyses of how race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class are represented in feature sports films are consistently thought-provoking and intriguing." -- Chris Holmlund, author of Impossible Bodies: Femininity and Masculinity at the Movies.
 

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Contents

Hollywood and
24
Gender in American
49
Class and American Boxing Films
100
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Aaron Baker is the winner of the 2007 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for poetry, selected by Stanley Plumly and awarded by Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, Baker
received his MFA at the University of Virginia. His work has been previously
published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Post Road, and
Poetry, among other publications. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and
teaches at Hollins University.

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