Tag Archives: gender

Two Handbooks in One Day

I've spent most of today making the final changes to my chapters for two forthcoming Routledge Handbooks.

The first is for the Volume 2 of the Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which Professor Vassil Girginov of Brunel University is editing. Volume 1, subtitled Making the Games, came out in 2012, and Volume 2 will follow later this year, with an emphasis on Celebrating the Games across 25 chapters. My chapter, called 'Inspire a Publication', is on the books and journal articles that London 2012 generated, and I've covered everything from academic texts and peer-reviewed articles through to children's books and official Olympic merchandise. The Handbook will be out in September 2013.

The second book is coming out in Novem

ber 2013. This one is the Handbook of Sport, Gender and Sexuality, and it is being edited by Jennifer Hargreaves, formerly of Brunel University, and Professor Eric Anderson of the University of Winchester. This book will contain 53 chapters, drawing on a range of international perspectives on the politics and representation of gender and sexuality in sport, and on identity and class issues. My chapter will be in the historical section, designed to help set the scene for what comes next. It's on 'Sport, Gender and Sexuality at the 1908 London Olympics'. It was researching this chapter that inspired me to start my new book on the women of London's first Olympics, which I'll blog about next week.

These are great projects to be involved with. The books are monumental tasks for the editors, but they are worth the effort as they bring together so many authors and so many themes.

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Sport and the City conference, University of Westminster

An idealised view of men and women on the 1908 Olympic Games diploma

On 24 April, I’ll be speaking at the University of Westminster’s Sport and the City conference. My paper will be on sport and gender at the 1908 London Olympic Games. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC and its preseident at the time of the 1908 Games, was famously reactionary when it came to gender politucs. As he wrote in 1912,

‘In our view, this feminine semi-Olympiad is impractical, uninteresting, ungainly, and, I do not hesitate to add, improper. It is not in keeping with my concept of the Olympic Games, in which I believe that we have tried, and must continue to try, to put the following expression into practice: the solemn and periodic exaltation of male athleticism, based on internationalism, by means of fairness, in an artistic setting, with the applause of women as a reward.’

And yet at the 1908 Olympic Games, women competed in five sports, more than at any of the previous three Olympic Games: lawn tennis, archery, ice skating, yachting, and motorboat racing. There were also demonstration events in gymnastics and diving. These Games thus form a fascinating case study in the history of gender issues at the Olympic Games. The fact that they were held in a London where the Suffragettes were demonstrating for the right to vote, and in which a quiet but influential debate over the legal status of homosexuality was going on, makes them truly fascinating.

The University of Westminster has a long history of involvement in the Olympic Games, as it is the successor to the Polytechnic, which helped to run the 1908 Games and which provided many Olympians. The conference will celebrate this, while also allowing shcolars to explore other links between sport and cities.


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