Physical Cultures of the Body

Virtual Conference, 2021

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On January 15, 2021, The Stark Center was proud to host an all-day, virtual conference titled, Physical Cultures of the Body. Speakers presented on the symbolic and cultural importance of the healthy and active body with reference to issues of race, gender, injury, strength, performance, eugenics, and much more. Twenty-one scholars presented papers at the conference, representing thirteen different countries, and over one hundred people from around the globe registered and attended. The full conference program can be downloaded here.

This is a graphic showing flags from the thirteen countries that were represented by paper presenters at the Physical Cultures of the Body Conference.

In creating the conference, co-directors also established two new awards, the David P. Webster Graduate Student Essay Award and the Terry Todd Award for Best Paper by a Working Scholar. These awards were named in honor of Terry Todd and David P. Webster, O.B.E. in recognition of their contributions as pioneering physical culture historians. David Webster is a historian from Scotland most noted for documenting strength training and physical culture in the United Kingdom as well as the history of cultural heritage in strength training and the Highland games. Terry Todd was one of the first historians to write and document the history of physical culture, especially the history of strength and physical training; he also founded the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas at Austin.

A photograph of Terry Todd and David P. Webster.
Terry Todd (left) and David P. Webster, O.B.E. (right)

The David P. Webster Graduate Student Essay Award was won by Rachel Ozerkevich, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for her essay “Crafting the Ideal Woman: Photomechanical Manipulation in Edmond Desbonnet’s Physical Culture Publications.”

The Terry Todd Award for Best Paper by a Working Scholar was won by Anastasija Ropa, Latvian Academy of Sport Education, for her essay “Physical Culture in Renaissance Europe: Some Evidence from Pietro Monte’s Collectanea.”

Headshots for the winners of the David P. Webster Graduate Student Essay Award and the Terry Todd Award for Best Paper by a Working Scholar.

Below, you can watch video recordings of the paper presentations for each section of the conference. We have only published recordings of presentations by authors who gave permissions to do so.

Physical Culture in India

Physical Culture Writers

Olympic Athletes and Identity

Gazing at the Body

Sport and Performance

Women and Fitness

Care of Athletes

Desbonnet’s Physical Culture

Masculinity and the Body

Strongest Man & Strongest Woman, Reconsidering Sandow and Minerva