Turning the Century: Essays in Media and Cultural Studies

By Carol A. Stabile | Go to book overview

viously" a site of masculine display and definition; but research into the historical origins and development of these traditions of display (and how they have been utilized over time) emphasizes the simple truth that these traditions did not spring fully formed from some godly cranium. They are the result of specific historical confluences of power negotiations between objects and exhibitors. Understanding these images as a sphere of contestation reminds us of the need to more fully interrogate the arena of sporting culture in our study of American culture. The recording of history is always a competition: A variety of discursive steeds challenge each other in a race against time, and at the finish line some are established as thoroughbreds, and others dispatched to the glue factory. There is more work to be done, and there are more races to be run. At the very least, we must broaden the field.


Notes
1
Bazin 1967, 22.
2.
For example, Robert Sklar describes the beginnings of this narrative as follows: "Ever since the development of still photography in the 1830s, inventors had been exploring ways to take a sequence of photographs rapidly enough to record a movement in all its phases" ( 1993, 19).
3.
Eadweard Muybridge produced a blurry photograph of the trotter Occident in 1872, but this image was never photographically reproduced. It was not until 1877 that Muy- bridge returned to Palo Alto and completed a series of motion studies of animals and men -- which were widely reproduced, circulated, and reviewed in 1878. Some historians have claimed that credit for the achievement of these motion studies belongs more appro- priately to John D. Isaacs, a technical expert for Stanford's Pacific Railway, because he de- signed new electromagnetic shutters for the cameras involved, improving the picture qual- ity. I am less interested, however, in the technology of the event than in the selection, presentation, and reception of these images; so I refer here to Muybridge as the "author" of these images. I focus on the 1878 motion studies because they are the images most of- ten referenced in discussions of cinema history. Figure 6.1, "Trotting, Occident," was one of the most famous motion studies from Palo Alto.
4.
Gunning 1990, 7.
5.
Goldstein and Gorn 1993, 54. Some examples of these races would be Eclipse vs. Sir Henry in 1823, Fashion vs. Boston in 1842, and Peytona vs. Fashion in 1845.
6.
Goldstein and Gorn 1993, 54.
7.
Riess 1995, 15.
8.
Other good examples of midcentury sporting ideology are found in Catherine Beecher's Physiology and Calisthenics, first published in 1856, and in the writings of William Alcott and Edward Hitchcock; and later in the century, the public utterances of President Theodore Roosevelt.
9.
The Young Men's Christian Association was founded by evangelical Christians in London in 1844.
10.
Goldstein and Gorn 1993, 82. In addition to athletics, temperance and vegetarian- ism were popular health reform movements in the mid-nineteenth century.

-136-

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