Seminar with Matthew Klugman and Claire McLisky

Matthew Klugman: "I feel like throwing up and I’m having trouble swallowing. And the beauty of it is you want to feel like this every day": Sport and the pleasures of embodied suffering   

Over the last few decades questions of embodiment and body cultures have come to the forefront of a diverse range of scholarly disciplines. Yet while there has been a proliferation of studies examining various embodied aspects of sport, the complex visceral pleasures (and affects more generally) that sport provides remain strangely neglected. Instead when it comes to the affective dimensions of sport, popular non-fiction writers have blazed a trail that scholars have only recently begun to follow. But these works of non-fiction are also interesting in the way they tend to hint at, yet also glide over, and at times even elide, certain difficult embodied passions and the strange pull they can exert for athletes, coaches and spectators (amongst others). This paper focuses on these intense, disconcerting moments by reading against, as well as with, the recent memoirs of the tennis player Andre Agassi, the baseball manager Tony La Russa, and the Australian Rules football spectator Jo Bowers. My concern lies with the insights these accounts provide of the counter-intuitive carnal pleasures and suffering that seem to be at the heart of the cultures of many spectator sports. The aim here is not to provide an exhaustive survey or a prescriptive recipe, but rather to open up a window into the diverse, sensuous, and sometimes disturbing world of embodied sporting passions.

Matthew Klugman researches and teaches in the history of sport. His research interests include those who love and hate sport, and the intersections of sport, passions, bodies, gender, sexuality, religion, migration and race. Matthew’s latest book is Black and Proud: The Story of an Iconic AFL Photo (NewSouth, co-authored with Gary Osmon). He is currently working on an Australian Research Council funded project looking at the sports mania that emerged in the Anglophone world in the nineteenth century.

Claire McLisky: Tears, sighs and 'miserable orthodoxy': the political nature of missionary claims for emotion in early colonial Greenland

While Christian theologians have long concerned themselves with the importance of feeling, the role of emotion in Christianity is just beginning to be explored within the discipline of history. In particular, historians of Christian missions are becoming interested in the affective dimensions of encounters between missionaries and non-Christian peoples, and the emotions associated with processes of conversion. These encounters generally took place in intercultural settings, with significant language barriers and within a broader context of European colonization, and were usually not recorded by the converts themselves, but by missionaries or other colonial agents. For this reason, studying the emotional dynamics of these encounters is particularly difficult, complicated as it is by questions of authorship, intercultural comprehension, translation, and multidirectional colonial power differentials.  In this paper, I consider the case of early colonial Greenalnd, asking what the available sources can tell us about the role of emotions in Inuit encounters with Christianity. The Greenlandic context was complicated not just by colonial dynamics but also by competition between the two groups of missionaries who worked there (Danish Lutherans and German Moravians). In this context, I consider which emotions these missionaries, and the Greenlanders they worked with, associated with Christianity: which were considered virtuous, which sinful, and which emotions proved particularly hard to translate. Emotion was a potent but unpredictable tool for missionaries and Greenlanders alike, resulting in enrichment and enlargement of culture and faith on both sides, but also in resistance, conflict and refusals. These early emotional encounters, I argue, led not just to emotional and spiritual transformations within individuals (both missionary and Greenlander), but also contributed to cultural change within Greenlandic and Danish societies. 

All are welcome!

This is an Engerom focus event within the research platform Sense and Sensibility. Afterwards, the Department offers a glass of wine.