Publication Date

5-2021

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-18-2021

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature

Department

English

Major Advisor

Gautam Basu Thakur, Ph.D.

Advisor

Samantha Harvey, Ph.D.

Advisor

Ralph Clare, Ph.D.

Abstract

Sport is considered to be apolitical. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, sport and discourses around sport support and sustain dominant hegemony in various ways. This is just as true for the public school origins of modern sport as it is for contemporary global sport. Whether it be the capitalist ethic of the American Dream, or the imperial, British, ethic of ‘fair play,’ sport does not exist independent from ideology. Instead, sport is used as a social disciplining tool that underhandedly justifies, disciplines, and “normalizes” social behavior, culture, and dominant ideologies. This thesis begins with an examination of the role of sport as a tool for social disciplining but, alongside, also delves into instances when sport has provided individuals the opportunity to reconstitute their identities and subjective autonomies against dominant cultural hegemonies. Through analyses of nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century cultural texts (literature and film), I argue that sport functions to both interpolate us as subjects and awaken us from docility in order lead us to critically engage with the world. The aim of this project is to identify these different functions of sport as social discourse and theorize a route by which sport can become more authentically emancipatory in the global present.

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