Down And Back Again: A Swimmer's Body Moves Through Feminism, Young Adult Sport Literature And Film




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Contemporary material feminism is interested in finding new ways of writing and liberating women's bodies in literature, and some of these feminists are looking at sport literature to do so. Down and Back Again: A Swimmer's Body Moves Through Feminism, Young Adult Sport Literature and Film analyzes the ways in which women are represented and/or embodied in feminist theoretical texts, sport photographs, young adult sport fiction and film. By examining these texts in relation to each other and in relation to my own experience in sport, this dissertation creates a circular and recursive story, much like swimming laps, as I interweave narrative, analysis, poetry and photography into my movement through the pool and project. Examining and analyzing the Young Adult sport genre from a feminist perspective reinforced my theory that this field provides opportunities for writing women's bodies. Each chapter focuses on a discussion and/or critique of various types of texts, such as feminist classics, photographs of female athletes, a young adult sport film or a particular author's translation of sporting bodies onto the pages of his or her sport novels. These texts, more than any other genre, depict adolescent characters in a state of bodily formation and transition. Young Adult literature provides corporeal language and imagery where adolescents and adults can read about their bodies and themselves. In a culture that continues to view Young Adult literature as "juvenile" and marginalized, this dissertation recognizes that adolescent literature is a place to rediscover profound political and cultural corporeal agency in this time of identity formation. So, at the same time that I discuss how women embody themselves and are embodied by authors in feminism and young adult sport literature, I also include creative non-fiction vignettes about my return to swimming after a miscarriage and 10 years out of the pool. This creative nonfiction attempts to "embody" the project by telling the story of my own body's journey after grief. My body is key in my theorizing, and I hope it will speak from the water.