The Allure of Sports in Western Culture

Edited by John Zilcosky and Marlo Alexandra Burks

© 2019

Whether it is our love of chance and vicarious thrill, our need to release anxiety and aggression, or our appreciation of the arc traced by a ball at a crucial moment – sports draw us in.

The Allure of Sports in Western Culture contributes to contemporary debates about the attraction of sports in the West by providing a historical grounding, as well as theoretical perspectives and contextualization. Bringing together the work of literary theorists, historians, and athletes, the volume’s dual emphasis allows us to better understand the historical and ideological reasons for the changing nature of sports’ allure from Ancient Greece and Rome to the modern Olympics. The findings show that allure is shaped by larger forces such as poverty, wealth, and status; changing moral standards; and political and cultural indoctrination. On the other hand, personal and psychological factors play an equally important, if less tangible role: our love for scandal, the seduction of deception and violence, and the physiological intoxication of watching and participating in sports keep us hooked. At the heart of the volume lies the tension between our love of sports and our knowledge of their only barely hidden cruelties, exploitations, and manipulations.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005353

  • AVAILABLE DEC 2019

    From: $52.50

    Regular Price: $70.00

    ISBN 9781487504182
  • PUBLISHED SEP 2019

    From: $52.50

    Regular Price: $70.00

Quick Overview

Sports are the most popular spectator events in the history of the world. This volume demonstrates how sports shape societies and individuals. The essays offer critical new insights and historical case studies from historians, theorists, literature scholars, and athletes.

The Allure of Sports in Western Culture

Edited by John Zilcosky and Marlo Alexandra Burks

© 2019

Whether it is our love of chance and vicarious thrill, our need to release anxiety and aggression, or our appreciation of the arc traced by a ball at a crucial moment – sports draw us in.

The Allure of Sports in Western Culture contributes to contemporary debates about the attraction of sports in the West by providing a historical grounding, as well as theoretical perspectives and contextualization. Bringing together the work of literary theorists, historians, and athletes, the volume’s dual emphasis allows us to better understand the historical and ideological reasons for the changing nature of sports’ allure from Ancient Greece and Rome to the modern Olympics. The findings show that allure is shaped by larger forces such as poverty, wealth, and status; changing moral standards; and political and cultural indoctrination. On the other hand, personal and psychological factors play an equally important, if less tangible role: our love for scandal, the seduction of deception and violence, and the physiological intoxication of watching and participating in sports keep us hooked. At the heart of the volume lies the tension between our love of sports and our knowledge of their only barely hidden cruelties, exploitations, and manipulations.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "The Allure of Sports in Western Culture brings together a collection of insightful investigations into the qualities, both ethical and aesthetic, that have constituted the fascination of sports from classical antiquity to the present day. Observed from a broad variety of perspectives, the essays in this volume address the entangled forms of desire – for beauty, for ugliness, for losing one’s individuality – that combine to make sports one of the most significant cultural activities of the West."


    Andrew James Johnston, Freie Universität Berlin

    "Zilcosky and Burks have put together a timely collection of exceptional quality. The Allure of Sports in Western Culture evidences the growing importance of sports studies as a field that urges us to think through some of the most pressing questions of ethics and aesthetics. It shows how sports play a key role in historical subject formations and illuminates how the cultural as well as political events that institutionalize this practice are central to our modern self-understanding. The contributions make clear that scholars across the humanities have much to profit from thinking about the allure of sports."


    Alexander Regier, Department of English, Rice University

    "The fascination of sport in all its richness and ambivalence has hardly ever been explored so deeply. Magnificent!"


    Stefan Willer, Department of German Literature, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Author Information

    John Zilcosky is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and editor of Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey also published by the University of Toronto Press.

    Marlo Alexandra Burks is an independent scholar and recent postdoctoral Fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Allure and Ethics 
    John Zilcosky

    I. THEORETICAL OVERTURES

    1. "Allure" Constrained by "Ethics"? How Athletic Events Have Engaged Their Spectators 
    Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

    2. Allure/Sports 
    Grant Farred

    II. THE ANCIENT WORLD

    3. The Fading Allure of Greek Athletics 
    Sophie Remijsen

    4. Wrestling, or the Art of Disentangling Bodies 
    John Zilcosky

    5. The Allure and Ethics of Ancient Aesthetics: Hellenism in the Modern Olympic Movement  
    Charles Stocking

    III. MODERN EUROPE

    6. Attractive or Repugnant? Running Races in Eighteenth-Century Germany and Britain 
    Rebekka V. Mallinckrodt

    7. A Well Trained Community. Gymnastics for the German Nation 
    Wolf Kittler

    8. Importing a German Kampfsport: The Reception and Practice of Japanese Martial Arts in Interwar Germany 
    Sarah Panzer

    9. The Ethics and Allure of the Foul in Soccer 
    Annette Vowinckel

    Coda 
    Karin Helmstaedt

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