Physical Cultures of the Body, A Virtual Conference

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The 2023 Physical Cultures of the Body Conference (PCBC) was held Friday, January 13th. This will be the third iteration of this international conference and was free and open to all on Zoom. PCBC is jointly sponsored by the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports and the academic journal Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture. The conference was created as a showcase on scholarship related to historical and humanities-based approaches to the study of physical culture. 

We have been inspired by the international response to the Physical Cultures of the Body Conference. Thirteen different countries were represented at the inaugural conference and this year’s presenters are from India, South Africa, Latvia, Hungary, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England, Argentina, Colombia, and the United States. Such an international lineup also means a diverse slate of time zones, which is a real testament to the dedication of conference participants. There’s nearly a twelve-hour difference for scholars presenting from India and an eight-hour difference for scholars such as Dr. Francois Cleophas presenting from South Africa and Anistasija Ropa presenting from Latvia. Viewers are welcome to drop in and out throughout the day. The first presentation was at 8am and the last session began at 4:30 pm. Because of the virtual nature of the conference, attendees can enter and exit the Zoom portal as needed, allowing each audience member to hear as many presentations as his/her schedule allows.  

The conference also gives two honor awards to the best papers submitted to the conference. The David P. Webster Graduate Student Essay Award is given for the best article submitted by a graduate student. The Terry Todd Award for Best Paper by a Working Scholar is given to the best paper submitted by a working scholar. These awards were named in honor of Dr. Terry Todd, founder of the Stark Center, and David P. Webster, O.B.E., one of our most important physical culture historians. 

Honor award recipients for the 2023 conference are:

The Terry Todd Award for Best Paper by a Working Scholar

Basudhita Basu, Ph.D. – Physical Exercise as Preventative Medicine: Looking Back at Colonial Bengal (Circa 1860-1947)


John Fair, Ph.D. – “On The Horns of a Dilemma”: The Beleaguered Life of Hitler’s Greatest Weightlifter


Past Conferences:




For questions, please email conference co-organizers:  

Kim Beckwith

Jan Todd