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Learning to Speak Softly: the autobiography of Roberta Cowell Jean Williams International Centre for Sports History and Culture DMU.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning to Speak Softly: the autobiography of Roberta Cowell Jean Williams International Centre for Sports History and Culture DMU."— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning to Speak Softly: the autobiography of Roberta Cowell Jean Williams International Centre for Sports History and Culture DMU

2 Introduction: Gender as a relational concept; RCs autobiography and historical time Main Topic: An overview of the autobiography of Robert/ Roberta Cowell Concluding Wider Context: 1. British Motor Racing history 2. Resisting the linear sequence in sports history

3 Some wonderful recent work on gender as a relational concept i.e. Kasia Boddy Boxing: A Cultural History and Erik Jensen Body By Weimar History and time: Lynda Neads The Haunted Gallery using Michel Serres work – compared time to water and conceptualised it as kinetic Historical time is imagined as folded, pleated, and kneaded: it is spatial and topological, a dynamic volume, rather than a linear sequence. Motor racing & esp. biography of drivers makes this point nicely.

4 Roberts Cowells Story: An Autobiography is an historical example exploring the gendered identities of one individual – very much in and of its time

5 I wanted to fly fighter aircraft, drive fast cars, and perform other feats. In my day- dreams I would be the schoolboys idol; heroically doing fantastically courageous things, then nonchalantly signing autographs… My favourite sports were tennis and fencing, but I scraped into the Rugger XV as a wing three-quarter.






11 There is no such thing as a plain or ugly woman, only those who do not know how to make the best of themselves.

12 Concluding Wider Context 1.Motor Racing after WW2 1945-1976 -1946 GP of Nations Geneva; Italian cars dominated Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari and into the 1950s also Mercedes Benz -1946 newly formed Federation Internationale de l Automobile (FIA) established rules for GP and the term Formula One used for first time -1947 British anxiety for a national racing car led to est. British Racing Motors (BRM) Trust with 100 companies pledging support, driver Raymond Mays and engineer Peter Berthon

13 1949 British GP held at Silverstone; first Motorcycle World Championship in 1949 1950 First Formula One Drivers Championship (those of the 1920s now ignored by historians as unofficial); first event to count towards this held at Silverstone & then Geneva; Spa; Rheims; Monza and Nurburgring, plus Indy 500 The British School develops (Stirling Moss wins his first TT at 21; many circuits built on disused airfields; lighter Formula 3 acted as a talent identification class and BRMs became more successful)

14 1964 John Surtees wins GP World Championship title 1965 Jim Clark won 6 GPs and Indy 500 1966 New 3 litre formulation for GP 1968 Wing and Wedge designs developed 1969 Stewarts first World Championship 1972 Ecclestone takes over at Brabham team, BRM win last Monaco GP, Lotus, Cooper, and Tyrell important teams 1973Jackie Stewarts last season & third World Championship, most successful driver in GP history 27 victories in 99 starts 1975 Death of Graham Hill; many GP cars use British parts and especially engines 1976 James Hunt (Hunt-the Shunt) becomes F1 World Champion; Barry Sheene becomes Motorcycle World Champion –the British Playboy Motor Racing Stereotype

15 2. Resisting the linear sequence in sports history Brooklands 1908-1939 might have been more important for womens contribution to motor racing than 1946-1976 but… Then again, how do we define motor racing womens contribution and important (the Dog-house Owners Club versus the Jackie Stewart legend) (Rallying in 1950s and 60s Sheila Van Damm Pat Moss and Anne Wisdom, driving equestrians)

16 Gender and sporting bodies: has the urge to classify, regulate and binarise become more intense since WW2? The 2011 Caster Semenya ruling: A female with hyperandrogenism who is recognised as a female in law will be eligible to compete in women's competition in athletics provided that she has androgen levels below the male range (measured by reference to testosterone levels in serum) or, if she has androgen levels within the male range she also has an androgen resistance which means that she derives no competitive advantage from such levels. As part of their remit to govern and develop sport, national and international organisations classify and legislate on gender (among other identities) in ways that are conservative and out of touch with the way that we would behave in other areas of our lives. While some athletes such as Dennis Rodman can play with this still, there are cases such as Eudy Simelane, the lesbian rights campaigner and South African football player who was killed in a corrective rape gang murder in 2008. How can we historicise gender relations in sport as integral to our research and writing?

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