From the ancient Olympic games to the savage gladiatorial contests of the Roman Empire, from the thrill of the World Cup to the hype of the Super Bowl, sport represents a singular source of social belonging and communal enjoyment—sometimes as intense as religious faith. The Pleasure Principle addresses the issue of sport as a form of pleasure, contending that sport, like any form of popular culture, reveals a lot about the society in which it appears. Examining sports through various theoretical lenses, including Marxist, feminist, and poststructuralist, and from numerous disciplinary viewpoints—history, sociology, cinema studies, literature, and cultural studies—this special issue demonstrates the complexity of contemporary sports culture.
Ranging from the humorous to the ironic, from the personal to the theoretical, and from sports as dissimilar as baseball and rugby, gambling and karate, this issue explains fandom itself and explores the intersections of sport and politics, sport and class, and sport and identity. One timely essay addresses the use of Native American imagery and nicknames and the recent NCAA ban on these references. Another classifies gambling as a popular American sport, one that in 2003 attracted three times as many attendees as all Major League Baseball franchises combined. Another essay delves into the history of the golfing mecca of Pinehurst, North Carolina, discussing the resort’s roots in the age of Jim Crow. Among the other topics addressed in this issue are how soccer fandom and commodity culture can be one and the same; why Liverpool’s 2005 victory in the European Champion’s League proves that God is red; and why the Olympic Games can represent performative nationalism.
Contributors. David L. Andrews, Amy Bass, Norman K. Denzin, Grant Farred, Keya Ganguly, John Hartley, Jane Juffer, Liz Moor, Jeffrey T. Nealon, Annie Paul, George Ritzer, Jim Shepard, Orin Starn, Kenneth Surin
As the first survey of its kind, Soft in the Middle positions the contemporary softcore feature as a middlebrow form of pornography. This genre of film and video has been produced by a complex and often elusive industry situated in the ambiguous “middle” regions between hardcore and Hollywood.
In meticulous detail, Soft in the Middle demonstrates that softcore’s under-the-radar success and pervasive cultural devaluation may be understood in terms of the “postfeminist” strategies employed by successive generations of producers and distributors, each intent on overcoming obstacles to the mainstream distribution of pornographic material. Softcore and its American precursors became more “feminized” and “female friendly” as their distribution widened, a process hastened in the 1980s by the industry’s transition to private, non-theatrical modes of distribution and exhibition (e.g., home-video outlets and premium-cable networks like Cinemax). One of the byproducts of this development is that contemporary softcore has frequently resorted to what are arguably anti-male or “misandristic” attitudes and depictions. Clearly, the genre challenges traditional assumptions about pornography, including those held by feminists on both sides of “the porn debates.”
Drawing on original industrial research, extensive sampling, and wide-ranging scholarship, Soft in the Middle offers a nuanced look at a discreetly indecent genre whose central commodity has always been female nudity. The book examines the genre’s history, describes its deflationary trajectory, and differentiates the reading patterns of its disparate audiences, including “cult” critics and feminist critics. Naturally, the book also considers the genre’s formal and ideological conventions, surveying its most exemplary subgenres, styles, and motifs—and lavishing particular attention on its most influential studios, directors, and texts.
Offering new approaches to thinking about sports and political ideologies, Sport and Neoliberalism explores the structures, formations, and mechanics of neoliberalism. The editors and contributors to this original and timely volume examine the intersection of sport as a national pastime and also an engine for urban policy—e.g., stadium building—as well as a powerful force for influencing our understanding of the relationship between culture, politics, and identity.
Sport and Neoliberalism examines the ways the neoliberal project creates priorities for civic society and how, in effect, it turns many aspects of sport into a vehicle of public governance. From the relationship between sport and the neo-liberal state, through the environmental dimensions of neo-liberal sport, to the political biopolitics of obesity, the essays in this volume explore the ways in which the “logics” of neoliberalism are manifest as powerful public pedagogies through the realm of popular culture.
Contributors include: Michael Atkinson, Ted Butryn, C. L. Cole, Norman Denzin, Grant Farred, Jessica Francombe, Caroline Fusco, Michael D. Giardina, Mick Green, Leslie Heywood, Samantha King, Lisa McDermott, Mary G. McDonald, Toby Miller, Mark Montgomery, Joshua I. Newman, Jay Scherer, Kimberly S. Schimmel, and Brian Wilson
The moving body—pervasively occupied by fitness activities, intense training and dieting regimes, recreational practices, and high-profile sporting mega-events—holds a vital function in contemporary society. As the body moves—as it performs, sweats, runs, and jumps—it sets in motion an intricate web of scientific rationalities, spatial arrangements, corporate imperatives, and identity politics (i.e. politics of gender, race, social class, etc.). It represents vitality in its productive and physiological capacities, it drives a complex economy of experiences and products, and it is a meaningful site of cultural identities and politics.
Contributors to Sport, Physical Culture, and the Moving Body work from a simple premise: as it moves, the material body matters. Adding to the burgeoning fields of sport studies and body studies, the works featured here draw upon the traditions of feminist theory, posthumanism, actor network theory, and new materialism to reposition the physical, moving body as crucial to the cultural, political, environmental, and economic systems that it constitutes and within which is constituted. Once assembled, the book presents a study of bodies in motion—made to move in contexts where technique, performance, speed, strength, and vitality not only define the conduct therein, but provide the very reason for the body’s being within those economies and environments. In so doing, the contributors look to how the body moving for and about rational systems of science, medicine, markets, and geopolity shapes the social and material world in important and unexpected ways.
In Sport, Physical Culture, and the Moving Body, contributors explore the extent to which the body, when moving about both ostensibly active body spaces (i.e., the gymnasium, the ball field, exercise laboratory, the track or running trail, the beach, or the sport stadium) and those places less often connected to physical activity (i.e. the home, the street, the classroom, the automobile), is bounded to technologies of life and living; and to the political arrangements that seek to capitalize upon such frames of biological vitality. To do so, the authors problematize the rise of active body science (i.e. kinesiology, sport and exercise sciences, performance biotechnology) and the effects these scientific interventions have on embodied, lived experience.
Contributors to Sport, Physical Culture, and the Moving Body will be engaging a range of new and emerging theoretical perspectives, including new materialist, political ecology, developmental systems theory, and new material feminist approaches, to examine the actors and assemblages of movement-based material, political, and economic production. In so doing, contributors will vividly and powerfully illustrate the extent to which a focus on the fleshed body and its material conditions can bring forth new insights or ontological and epistemological innovation to the sociology of sport and physical activity. They will also explore the agency of the body as and amongst things. Such a performative materialist approach explicates how complex assemblages of sport and physical activity—bringing into association everything from muscle fibers and dietary proteins to stadium concrete or regional aquifers—are not only meaningful, but ecological.
By focusing on the confluence of agentive materialities, disciplinary technologies, vibrant assemblages, speculative realities, and vital performativities, Sport, Physical Culture, and the Moving Body promises to offer a groundbreaking departure from representationalist tendencies and orthodoxies brought about by the cultural turn in sport and physical cultural studies. It brings the moving body and its physics back into focus: recentering moving flesh and bones as locus of social order, environmental change, and the global political economy.
The term “art cinema” has been applied to many cinematic projects, including the film d’art movement, the postwar avant-gardes, various Asian new waves, the New Hollywood, and American indie films, but until now no one has actually defined what “art cinema” is. Turning the traditional, highbrow notion of art cinema on its head, Theorizing Art Cinemas takes a flexible, inclusive approach that views art cinema as a predictable way of valuing movies as “art” movies—an activity that has occurred across film history and across film subcultures—rather than as a traditional genre in the sense of a distinct set of forms or a closed historical period or movement.
David Andrews opens with a history of the art cinema “super-genre” from the early days of silent movies to the postwar European invasion that brought Italian Neorealism, the French New Wave, and the New German Cinema to the forefront and led to the development of auteur theory. He then discusses the mechanics of art cinema, from art houses, film festivals, and the academic discipline of film studies, to the audiences and distribution systems for art cinema as a whole. This wide-ranging approach allows Andrews to develop a theory that encompasses both the high and low ends of art cinema in all of its different aspects, including world cinema, avant-garde films, experimental films, and cult cinema. All of these art cinemas, according to Andrews, share an emphasis on quality, authorship, and anticommercialism, whether the film in question is film festival favorite or a midnight movie.