Modern Literature & Culture Research Centre & Gallery

Irene Gammel's article "Lacing Up the Gloves: Women, Boxing and Modernity" explores women's early twentieth-century engagement with boxing as a means of expressing the fragmentations and contradictions of modern life. 

 

 
Abstract
Equally drawn to and repelled by the visceral agonism of the sport, female artists and writers of the First World War and post-war era appropriated the boxer's virile body in written and visual autobiographies, effectively breaching male territory and anticipating contemporary notions of female autonomy and self-realization. 
 
Whether by reversing the gaze of desire as a ringside spectator or inhabiting the physical sublime of boxing itself, artists such as Djuna Barnes, Vicki Baum, Mina Loy and Clara Bow enlisted the tropes, metaphors and physicality of boxing to fashion a new understanding of their evolving status and identity within a changing social milieu. 
 
At the same time, their corporeal and textual self-inscriptions were used to stage their own exclusion from the sport and the realm of male agency and power. Ultimately, while modernist women employ boxing to signal a radical break with the past, or a reinvention of self, they also use it to stage the violence and trauma of the era, aware of limits and vulnerabilities. 
 
 
Keyword
Boxing; Gender; Modernity; Self-Representation; Women 
 
Citation
Irene Gammel. "Lacing Up the Gloves: Women, Boxing and Modernity." Cultural and Social History (Bloomsbury) 9.3 (September 2012): 369-390(22) 
 

Recent News

Pandemic Webinar #13: Pandemic City

Pandemic Webinar #13: Pandemic City

We explore the conditions of public space and urban life amidst the second wave of COVID-19 with three experts in the field.

The MLC Director Presents: The Top 10 of 2020

The MLC Director Presents: The Top 10 of 2020

Irene Gammel, Director, is pleased to present the Top 10 accomplishments of the MLC Research Centre of 2020.

Call for Papers for Routledge Book: The Pandemic, Modernity, and the Everyday

Call for Papers for Routledge Book: The Pandemic, ...

The MLCRC invites contributors to contemplate the long-term impact of the pandemic in the post-COVID-19 era.

Book Launch for I Can Only Paint

Book Launch for I Can Only Paint

Book launch for I Can Only Paint: The Story of Battlefield Artist Mary Riter Hamilton by Irene Gammel. Dec10, 5 - 6 PM EST, free of charge.

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

MLC Themes

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

Amid the unprecedented social change of World War I, women renegotiated their identities by dramatically changing the way they engaged with the arts. But how did they do so? And how did everyday citizens engage with the war?

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

MLC Themes

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, considered by many to be the mother of Dada, was a daringly innovative poet and an early creator of junk sculpture. “The Baroness” was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances.

Modernism in the World

MLC Themes

Modernism in the World

Recent research has departed from the Euro-centric and national view of Modernism to include approaches and methods studying Modernism across national boundaries and across different art forms to include fashion, dance, performance, technology, and visual culture.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

MLC Themes

Lucy Maud Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery is perhaps Canada's most important literary export. She was prolific writer of over 500 short stories and poems, and twenty novels, including the beloved Anne of Green Gables.

Canadian Modernism

MLC Themes

Canadian Modernism

The works of numerous Canadian authors who lived during the modernist era may well constitute the most central and experimental articulation of Canadian modernism in prose, allowing authors to stage cross-cultural, controversial, and even conflicted identities.

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

MLC Themes

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

Life writing, including autobiographical accounts, diaries, letters and testimonials written or told by women and men whose political, literary or philosophical purposes are central to their lives, has become a standard tool for communication and the dissemination of information.