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Hockey: Challenging Canada’s Game – Au-delà du sport national

May 1, 2018   

Last week my new co-edited collection was released by the University of Ottawa Press. Please, judge this book by the fantastic cover image: it is a challenging, myth-busting, inclusive and fun-loving analysis of hockey. Available online and at academic bookstores.

For many Canadians, hockey is the game. While the relationship between hockey and national identity has been studied, where does the game fit into our understanding of multiple, diverse Canadian identities today? This interdisciplinary book considers hockey, both as professional and amateur sport, and both in historical and contemporary context, in relation to larger themes in Canadian Studies, including gender, race/ethnicity, ability, sexuality and geography.

Contributors to this book reflect upon all aspects of hockey in Canadian life: play, fandom, sports broadcasting, and community activism.

Revisiting the Barbara Ann Scott doll

February 15, 2018   

Recently, I revisited a topic I’ve been researching since my undergraduate days: the Barbara Ann Scott doll. I first looked at this doll in an image study of Eaton’s Catalogues preserved at the Archives of Ontario. The paper was inspired by my mom’s childhood memories of the skater. Since then I’ve revisited the history of the doll in my master’s thesis and used it as a springboard for discussion in undergraduate sports history classes.

I also blogged about Scott in my Fifteen for Section 15 series a few years ago.

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of Scott’s gold medal win at the 1948 Winter Olympic Games in Switzerland. I could not resist putting together a short blog post on its history.

Read it here.

 

Fall talking season!

September 20, 2017   

I received invites from a couple of groups to come talk about curating. How could I say no? I love my work, and I will tell anyone who will listen.

Curious about curating?
September 20, 6:30-8:00pm
Editors Ottawa
414 Sparks Street


Five Things I’ve Learned About Working in Public History

October 2, 12:30-1:30pm
Trent University
Kerr House

…and I’ll also be talking museums and sport at an upcoming conference:

Hockey: where do we place the accent?
October 14, 9:30am-11:00am
150 Ideas That Shaped Canada
York University
Check out the program!

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Writing

September 20, 2017   

A few projects I’ve worked on are making, or have made, their way into the world.

Recently, the Champlain Society shared a short piece I wrote about Justine Blainey. This documentary analysis looks at a letter to Blainey from her lawyer about a telephone conversation with a hockey official. Part of a larger project I’m chipping away at situating Blainey’s case in Canada in the 1980s.

In March the catalogue for Hockey, an exhibition I co-curated, was released. Much of the credit for this beautiful book goes to Dr. Jennifer Anderson. If you did not get a chance to see the exhibition in person this will give you a sense of the content.

Anderson and I have also put together an edited collection called Hockey: Challenging Canada’s Game that will be released next spring. The book was a great opportunity to work with many of the scholars that inspired the exhibition.

Lastly, Gurze recently invited me to submit an entry on Obesity Stigma for their resource catalogue of “eating disorders.” While I don’t think obesity is an eating disorder, I was happy to submit this short encyclopedia entry explaining the problem of stigma to health practitioners and the public.

Fat Activism Book Review – Free Copies

March 13, 2017   

Women’s Studies, an Interdisciplinary journal, is offering free copies of my review of Fat Activism by Charlotte Cooper. Click here.

Spoiler alert: the book is well worth the read, but more details and discussion on the book’s contribution to Fat Studies are in the review.

Book Launch for Obesity in Canada

September 1, 2016   

Please join us in Winnipeg on September 26 at 7:00pm for the official launch of Obesity in Canada: Critical Perspectives. The event is at McNally Robertson Grant Park in the Atrium.

I’ll be there along with co-editor Deborah McPhail and some of the book’s contributors. We would love to talk about the book, our research, your research, and critical perspectives on obesity.

No RSVP required, more details here.

Obesity in Canada: Critical Perspectives

March 9, 2016   

Coming April 29, 2016. Order here.

Ellison selected mock up

Five Things You Don’t Know About Terry Fox: May 27, 6:30pm

May 5, 2015   

You know he’s a national hero, but what did he add to the national conversation? As he became a hero Canadians were inspired by Terry Fox in ways you might not expect.

Come see me talk at the Danforth Coxwell branch of the Toronto Public Library,May 27, 6:30-8:00pm in the Program Room (upstairs). This event is part of the History Matters lecture series.

The talks will expand upon (yes, there’s more) my recent blog posts for Active History. I’ll talk upon some unknown aspects of the runner’s life story and how he fits into the story of Canada in the 1980s.

You can find my April 2015 ActiveHistory.ca series on Terry Fox, marking the 35th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope, here:

Terry Fox Was an Activist
Terry Fox: A Unifying Influence on Our Nation?
Terry Fox was a Rock Star
Terry Fox Mania

I hope to see you May 27!

Podcasting Project

April 12, 2015   

I’m creating a podcast documenting how Canadians think about bodies, health and sport. It will focus on stories of how individuals experienced, thought about or contributed to noteworthy events, social movements and controversies.

Right now I am looking for people who won a “gold crest” or “Award of Excellence” from the Canada Fitness Awards in the 1970s and 1980s. These were a series of tests (shuttle run, 500 and 50 metre run, chin ups) that you may have done in phys ed class as a kid. If you – or people you know – were Canada Fitness Award all-stars, please get in touch!

Please email me at jenny@jennyellison.com with your story.

Not a Canada Fitness Award winner? I’m also looking for folks with memories of other events and programs of the 1970s and 1980s for future work:

• The Canada Home Fitness Test “Fit Kit” (see photo)
• ParticipACTION
• The 1988 Calgary Olympic Games (and especially the theme song “Can You Feel It”)
• Women’s Health Movement Activism

Fit Kit image

Debating Femininity with Nancy Greene

January 8, 2015   

Fifteen for 15 #8

Eight years ago I was seeking permission to use an advertising image of Nancy Greene for an article. Getting permission to use old ads and images is sometimes hard. After getting the run-around from the brand I decided to contact Nancy Greene’s “people” to see if they could help. I found a number and dialed. Greene answered the phone.

I was caught off guard and impressed that Nancy Greene answered her own calls. This was before she was Senator Nancy Greene. But still. Greene was named Canada’s “athlete of the century” by the Canadian Press in 1999 because of her gold and silver medals at the 1968 Olympics, World Cup wins in 1967 and 1968 and numerous Canadian titles. She also operates a ski resort in the B.C. interior, Cahilty Lodge, with her husband Al Raine. Greene didn’t seem like someone who would have the time to be answering public inquiries.

True to one of her nicknames, “Nice Nancy,” Greene was down to earth and chatty. I explained that I was looking for permission to use an ad that appeared in Chatelaine for an article on female athletes and femininity. I’m paraphrasing here, but her immediate reaction was a chipper but firm “no, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong.” Greene told me that there wasn’t any need to debate athlete’s femininity or feminization, it was a non-issue and people shouldn’t make a bit deal out of such stuff. She “was what she was” and there was no need for analysis.

The ad in question is one of my favourites from my study of images of female athletes in advertising. It shows three images of Greene, posed in her ski gear, beside a vase of flowers, and in a kicky, striped sleeveless dress. The copy compares two women “Mrs. Raine” and Nancy Greene, and the challenges of keeping their skin hydrated and soft. In the end we learn that Nancy Greene is Mrs. Raine! It employs a common trope of pre-2000s images of athletes: comparing their sport with other more stereotypically feminine activities. You can see and read more about these ads here.

Nancy Greene at Sun Peaks in 2000. Public Domain.

Nancy Greene (2000). Public Domain.

I was taken aback when Greene told me flat-out that I was wrong to study female athletes and femininity. I can’t remember what I said in response to her challenge, other than stammering out a meek defense of my research. Looking back I can see this as the first time one of my research participants challenged the academic process. I now know this is a common experience when writing about living people. They talk back.

Greene chuckled at my reply and then agreed to let me use the image. Cool, right?

Last week I was in Banff, Alberta and saw a panel about Greene in a display about Canada’s best skiers. She was one of only a few women featured. It made me think back to our phone conversation. At the time I felt charmed by Greene but unsettled that she didn’t want to talk about the gender dynamics of sport. Since I hadn’t expected to talk to Greene I had not thought about what she might say if she learned I was analyzing her public image. After reading Silken Laumann’s biography I can see that such inquiries probably hit a bit too close to home or are perceived to take away from an athlete’s accomplishments.

Off the ski hill Greene was known as “Nice Nancy,” but on the slopes she was called “Tiger” because of her aggressive skiing style. That this all happened in the late-1960s and early 1970s when femininity as subject for public debate is interesting. This was the era of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and a time when female athletes successfully lobbied for a women’s program within Sport Canada. Greene didn’t see herself as a sports feminist and didn’t join other female athletes in attempting to reform Canada’s sport system. But she still helped advance women’s sport in Canada because of what she achieved. So in this sense, Greene was right, she “was who she was,” and it worked.

Still, I think the question of femininity is an important part of Nancy Greene’s legacy. The ad was sexist and a relic of the 1970s. It is a lens we can use to understand the past and think about gender representation in the present.

Fifteen for 15 is a series of blog posts I’ve been doing since 2013 about women’s sport in Canada. Inspired by ESPN’s “30 for 30” and “Nine for IX” television documentaries, I’m thinking about athletes, teams and watershed moments in Canadian women’s sport history.