Scholarly Analysis of a Figure Skating Article Essay

957 Words Jan 26th, 2014 4 Pages
Analysis of a Scholarly Article
January 31st, 2014

Mary Louise Adams’ “The Manly History of a 'Girls' Sport': Gender, Class and the Development of Nineteenth-Century Figure Skating” is an article that sheds light on the role that gender played on figure skating throughout the nineteenth century. It centers on how male-dominated the activity of figure skating was throughout the nineteenth century—a stark contrast to the sport we know today, which is populated largely by women. Adams unearths the shift in the sport by examining the concept of masculinity in relation to the human body during this period, which shifted in terms of its values. Ultimately, she argues that the reason for the shift from male-dominated figure
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Following her thesis, Adams moves into talk of the early days of figure skating: frozen rivers, ponds, and lakes were used for skating, the latter of which was used by the nobility in a recreational manner. The men of the nobility (women did not, for the most part, partake in this activity until later due to its risk of falling and initial gracelessness) began to see figure skating as something that promote grace and therefore also promoted masculinity. Skating became a courtly thing to do, fitting “somewhere between the categories of walking and dancing”2 and thereby bolstering a gentleman’s fine and tasteful appearance. However graceful and freeing skating may have been to the refined gentleman, Adams notes that there were still very strict rules in place regarding what movements were considered appropriate while one was skating. She notes the difference between English skating, which emphasized arm movements and, later, simple synchronized routines, and the Continental style, which incorporated flourishes and jumps into its routines. To the English, “stunts such as jumps and spins were frowned upon and considered by many not to be true skating”3, while those who enjoyed the Continental style often voiced strong disagreement. Movements in the English style changed as the culture did; Adams states that “skating in the Victorian era became more closely governed by rules, as it became

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