At Leisure? Amateur Sport and Performance / 18 September / DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS 7 July 2014

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Queen Mary university
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Keynote: Dr Colette Conroy (University of Hull)

'I believe and hope to prove that cricket and football were the greatest cultural influences in nineteenth-century Britain, leaving far behind Tennyson's poems, Beardsley's drawings and concerts of the Philharmonic society.'
-- C. L. R. James (1963)

The performative role that amateur sport can play within societies and cultures has become an increasingly pertinent question in recent years. As the media controversy surrounding the Winter Olympics in Sochi indicates, amateur sport's performance of social relations and international communities remains a highly political subject. Though generally considered a leisure activity, amateur sports have close historical and performative connections to military training and war. Amateur sports played a key role in the performance of the British Empire, and continue to be a vital part of post-colonial conflicts and cultural negotiations.

A subject of controversy for over a century, economies and labour relations in amateur sports are still hotly contested, as demonstrated by the recent ruling that college football players at Northwestern University in Illinois can legally unionise. Since 2000, scholars have approached amateur sports from a broad range of perspectives: sociological (Stebbins, 2002); philosophical (Feezell, 2004); legal (Fields, 2004); in relation to community formation and social reform (Bouchier, 2003); in relation to the media (Boyle and Haynes, 2009); and as a way of thinking through gender (Messner, 2002; Montez de Oca, 2013).

The strong connections between sport and performance studies have been an ongoing concern in the work of theorists and practitioners such as Richard Schechner, Keith Johnstone, Robert Rinehart and Dennis Kennedy. More recently, Colette Conroy has examined the disabled sporting body on the stage of the 2012 Paralympics, and Jennifer Doyle has announced an upcoming study on 'the athletic turn' in performance practices, examining the increasing number of artists whose work has an overt engagement with sports culture or athleticism.

With the ongoing AHRC-funded project investigating amateur drama and performance ('Amateur Dramatics: Crafting Communities in Time and Space'), and recent publications on the role of the amateur within society (Ridout, 2013), there is also a building critical awareness in performance studies of the significance of amateur activities in communities, economies and art practice.

This one-day symposium seeks to join these two emerging critical efforts to consider the fruitful field of amateur sports and its manifestations within performance.

Call for Papers

The symposium is open to a wide range of critical engagements with amateur sport across historical moments and geographical locations, including interdisciplinary approaches. We are seeking 20 minute papers, performances and performative papers which may be inspired by, but not limited to, the following topics:

- Economies and Labour
skill, virtuosity and practice / charity, prizes and corporate sponsorship / amateur versus professional binaries / performance and leisure / unionisation and working rights / corporate training exercises

- Event
spectatorship / visible and invisible labour / presence and liveness / ephemera and memorabilia / amateur competition as spectacle and mass entertainment

- Bodies and Identities
corporeal risk / theories of movement and processes / disability in amateur sports / amateur sport and the construction of identity: race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality / performance-enhancing drugs and policing bodies / disciplined practice and licensed indiscipline

- Community and Place
amateur sports and community cohesion or conflict / ritual / sites of amateur sports, i.e. lawns, greens, pitches / amateur sport in institutions

- Nationhood
amateur sport as expression of national identities / postcolonial amateur sport / the Olympics and Paralympics as performance / international relations / sport in the armed forces/ amateur sport in warzones / sport as resistance

- Performance practices
sport in actor training / portrayals of sport or athleticism in performance / the performance of sport

Please send a 250 word abstract, along with a brief biography, to and

Extended deadline for abstracts: Monday 7 July 2014

Convenors: Eleanor Massie and Kirstin Smith