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(Re)Presenting Wilma Rudolph

Rita Liberti and Maureen M. Smith

Paper $39.95s    |    978-0-8156-3384-6    |    2015

ebook 978-0-8156-5307-3


2016 North American Society for Sport History Book Award Winner

"In this culmination of a seven-year project, kinesiologists Rita Liberti and Maureen Smith examine the cultural importance of and meaning constructed about Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph (1940-94) by interrogating various historical sources and cultural artifacts produced by and about the champion sprinter. Organized around these cultural products, the book is not a typical biography detailing the ’facts‘ of a life; rather it is a careful investigation of meanings constructed around these so-called facts. Focusing on constructions of race, gender, class, and physical ability, the authors examine how and why the past is remembered and how it serves to construct particular narratives and silence others. A major strength is the authors’ method: they build a dominant narrative—a rags-to-riches story—and then offer alternate readings to illustrate how these constructions have served to frame the narratives about Rudolph in order to promote a particular story at a specific historical time and place. Grounded in a cultural-historical paradigm and acknowledging that historical knowledge is rarely certain and always connected to ideology, (Re)presenting Wilma Rudolph will be valuable for anyone interested in sport studies. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"A brilliant analysis of the public memories and diverse representations of the life and achievements of the great twentieth century African American female track star, Wilma Rudolph. Their skillful interrogation of collective memories pulls the past into the present, assuring us that memories of this inspiring athlete’s life will continue to be invoked in the future."—Patricia Vertinsky, University British Columbia

"Not only have the authors chosen to take on Ms. Rudolph’s legacy, but they are also engaging her historical and contemporary significance within the most current and promising shifts within the field: cultural history."—Damion Thomas, author of Globetrotting: African American Athletes and Cold War Politics

"(Re)Presenting Wilma Rudolph explores the historical trajectory of stories about the great Olympic track star of the 1960s. Their insights provide an important message for a celebrity-obsessed culture and for the focus on celebrity within the academic field of critical sport studies."—Susan Birrell, University of Iowa

  (Re)Presenting Wilma Rudolph

  Rita Liberti is professor in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University East Bay. Maureen M. Smith is professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at California State University Sacramento.

Book Description »

View other books on Sports History.

6 x 9, 328 pages, 10 black-and-white illustrations, notes, bibliography, index

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