Monday, July 11, 2011

Conference: Sport in the Early Modern Culture

Sport in the Early Modern Culture Conference held by the DFG-Network “Body Techniques” in co-operation with the German Historical Institute London Venue: GHI London, November 17th-19th 2011
While the history of sport in the modern period has attracted a great deal of interest in recent years and new approaches have found their way into research, sport and physical exercise in the early modern period is still a rather neglected topic. Our aim is not to continue the well-known discussion of whether or not sport existed in pre-modern times. There were many physical activities beyond the courtly exercises of fencing, riding and dancing, ranging from rowing, wrestling, jeu de paume, soccer and gymnastics to swimming, diving, pall mall, shooting, running and ice skating. The early modern period had professional players as well as sports grounds, training as well as contests, referees as well as public audiences. And sometimes important political and economic issues were at stake.
This conference aims to bring together specialists from diverse disciplines and many nations to view the practice of sport and physical exercise in its cultural context, taking into special consideration social, political and economic influences. Contributions may relate to individual countries, to specific individuals or groups, or to individual sports. As we want to reach beyond the study of normative treatises, we will focus specifically on the following aspects of early modern sports culture:
- practices and materials, e.g. how, where, when and by whom were which sports practised? What equipment was necessary for what kinds of sports and how did sports influence equipment and vice versa? Did the required equipment limit sports to specific classes?
- issues of gender, e.g. how did gender influence and limit the choices of sports? How did sports and physical exercise create notions of manliness and femaleness? Did sports allow notions of gender to be blurred or transgressed?
- economic aspects, e.g. how were materials required for sports produced and distributed? How did the emergence of a sporting culture influence the early modern economy?
- (post)colonial approaches, e.g. to what extent did Asian, African, or native American sporting cultures influence European sports? How were sports transformed and appropriated when they crossed borders or social groups?
Anyone interested in participating is invited to submit a topic for a paper related to one or several aspects outlined above. Papers should be no longer than 35 minutes (plus 15 minutes discussion). Please send a short summary (one page) of the proposed topic with a brief CV to one of the two organizers by 31 August 2011. Travel and accommodation costs will be reimbursed.
Prof. Dr. Rebekka von Mallinckrodt Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut Free University of Berlin Koserstr. 20 14195 Berlin Germany mail: