Sporting Blackness: Race, Embodiment, and Critical Muscle Memory on Screen (University of California Press, 2020) examines issues of race and representation in sports films, exploring what it means to embody, perform, play out, and contest blackness by representations of Black athletes on screen. By presenting new critical terms, Samantha N. Sheppard analyzes not only “skin in the game,” or how racial representation shapes the genre’s imagery, but also “skin in the genre,” or the formal consequences of blackness on the sport film genre’s modes, codes, and conventions. Through a rich interdisciplinary approach, Sheppard argues that representations of Black sporting bodies contain “critical muscle memories,” embodied, kinesthetic, and cinematic histories that go beyond a film’s plot to index, circulate, and reproduce broader narratives about Black sporting and non-sporting experiences in American society. Available everywhere June 16, 2020. Pre-order your copy via UC PRESS or AMAZON
Scholar Professor Writer
PRAISE FOR SPORTING BLACKNESS...
“Exceptional and urgent. Sheppard’s analysis of ‘critical muscle memory’ should be a grounding template for scholarship in film and media studies, sports studies, and critical race theory.”—Victoria E. Johnson, author of Heartland TV: Prime Time Television and the Struggle for U.S. Identity
“Sure to be a touchstone in the rising tide of scholarship on the nexus of media, sport, culture, and power.” It invents and introduces several concepts—particularly ‘critical muscle memory’—that will productively reverberate across the fields that this excellent interdisciplinary book puts into conversation.”—Travis Vogan, author of ABC Sports: The Rise and Fall of Network Sports Television
“Exquisite and groundbreaking. Sheppard’s rich conceptions of black performativity
will be of great import across the field of black visual culture.”—Michael Boyce Gillespie, author of Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film
"Sheppard’s book analyzes how Black athletes are represented in Hollywood movies, experimental films, documentaries, and on television. Her focus on the convergence of sports media illustrates the influence of these representations on how we see the Black sporting body, but also the potential for reading such portrayals in progressive ways"—Aaron Baker, author of Contesting Identities: Sports in American Film