Blaschke Defends Dissertation

in Uncategorized
April 2nd, 2012

On March 26, 2012, Ph.D. candidate Anne Blaschke successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, “RACING TO WIN: WOMEN TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES IN AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE, 1928-1978.’  Using the lens of track and field, one of the few sports in which women could participate between 1928 and 1978, to examine domestic and international American politics. Blaschke argues that elite tracksters, a marginalized subset among women and athletes alike, used existing social networks and movements to advocate both cultural acceptance and political advances for women. Her research reveals that women athletes in a broad range of roles—as undergraduates at black southern colleges, members of urban ethnic and religious track teams, civil rights activists, and international representatives of Cold War democracy—emphasized their femininity and skill to counter Americans’ belief that female competitors transgressed acceptable social mores.  Uncovering a diverse network of women athletes, Racing to Win reveals the benefit of tracing interracial, ethnic, and religious connections in women’s political history in alternative cultural channels like sport. Black women have served as models of American femininity in very few contexts. My research reveals that as athletes, they set the standard for how women should present themselves as national representatives at home and abroad after 1928. This dissertation explores alliances and relationships historians have overlooked to show how women’s sport, a subject seemingly peripheral to historical analysis of national political culture and society, illuminates new insights about these central forces.

Ms. Blaschke’s dissertation committee consisted of BU professors Sarah Phillips, Bruce Schulman and Nina Silber, along with outside experts Laura Kalman (UCSB) and Susan ware (Schlesinger Library/Dictionary of American Biography).