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Thread: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!

  1. #1
    mathman444
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    Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    I just finished reading Culture on Ice: Figure Skating and Cultural Meaning, by Ellyn Kestnbaum (our own EllynK). What a read! Buy it! Buy it!

    I don't want to make this review so long that no one will read it, so I will briefly mention just three points here.

    1. You can't judge a book by it's cover. On the front cover is a picture of 15-year-old Michelle Kwan, all tarted up as Salome, obviously being pimped to an appreciative male audience, if not to Herrod himself.

    On the back cover we read that the book is classified under "gender studies" and that the author (PhD in theater from the University of Wisconsin) has contributed to scholarly compilations of feminist writings.

    "Oh oh," thinks the typical oafish male figure skating fan, "I'm about to have my consciousness raised."

    Well, I don't know if my consciousness was raised or not, but I certainly learned more from this work than from any other book on ice skating on my shelf. Yes, the author outlines the image of figure skating as filtered through the vocabulary of feminist writers of the 1970s: that the essence of the sport is to present the female body to the masculine gaze, while the female being thus presented is valued according to how well she matches the societal ideal of the passive and disempowered sex object. The point of this book is to subject this view to critical analysis, and in particular to challenge it as superficial or at least incomplete (for starters, the majority of figure skating fans are women).

    I don't want to give away the plot, but Dr. K. argues persuasively: it's <em>way</em> more complicated -- and more interesting -- than that!

    2. This book is not fluff. The title of the first chapter is <em>A General Theory of Meaning</em>. The first sentence of the first chapter is: "According to structuralist linguistic/semiotic theory based on the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, meaning derives from difference or distinction within a system of signification."

    OK, so I have never heard of de Saussure and I have had to consult the dictionary three times so far. No prob. Any book that starts out discussing the "meaning of meaning" is my kind of book! Plus, once you get into it the work zips along like a novel. Although the author does not back away from using technical terms when precision requires it, the writing style is a model of clarity that can only be described as elegant. The book is worth reading for the quality of the writing alone.

    3. Don't read this book with a hi-liter in hand to mark especially salient passages. Your copy will just end up like mine, solid yellow. If you don't like sex or culture, the book is still worth the price ($19.95 in paperback) just for the historical references: how did figure skating, a sport begun by adult men, develop into an activity that is now associated mainly with adolescent girls? (Oh wait -- that's sex and culture , too.)

    Anyway, this is a dynamite book. If you like figure skating you'll love this book!

    Mathman

  2. #2
    rachelstarlet
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    Thanks for the review! I'm always looking for books about skating to read, especially now in the off-season when I don't have TV coverage to fill my appetite for skating. The content of the book seems like a subject that is important to learn about if you're interested in skating, but one that is not always well-publicized. Time to go bug my library to get the book!

    Rachel

  3. #3
    thvudragon
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    I bought the book off amazon, but I have yet to read it since I'm being forced to read all these books for school .

    TV

  4. #4
    Princess Leppard 625
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    <span style="colorurple;font-family:georgia;font-size:x-small;">The local bookstore ordered it for me last week. They said it will take two weeks! *boo hoo*

    Looking forward to it!

    Laura </span>

  5. #5
    Joesitz
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    Mathman - Your Book Review was, imo, good enough for print in the <em>NewYorker</em>. In fact so good, I'm going to have to get a copy. And praises to EllynK!

    Joe

  6. #6
    Kara Bear
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    <strong>Hi Mathman,

    That was a great review. You convinced to find the book.

    And look at me. I can type big. Still working on the colour. Thanks!</strong>

  7. #7
    rachelstarlet
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    I was at my local Barnes and Noble today on a whim (just passing by, wanted a cold drink from the cafe ) and I checked the sports section to see if the Champions on Ice book was there to look at while I sipped my iced coffee. And, what did I find, but Culture on Ice! I was excited bcs I didn't expect it. So, I promptly bought it, and it's great so far, even tho I've only gotten through the intro. This'll keep me busy for awhile during the loooong off-season!

  8. #8
    RealtorGal
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    <span style="color:navy;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:small;">Wow! You always wonder what happened to people with whom you went to school! Very interesting... Good for her! Sounds like a great book--it's on my list. Thanks.</span>

  9. #9
    mathman444
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    RG, did you go to school with Ellyn K?

  10. #10
    RealtorGal
    Guest

    Re: Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!


    <span style="color:teal;font-family:comic sans ms;font-size:small;"><strong>Yes--college (my first degree, before music school). I don't remember her all that well, but I do remember her being a very nice person. I think she was involved with the Theater Dept.--that's how we knew each other. I'm glad to hear about her success, and, of course, her interest in skating!</strong></span> :D

  11. #11
    Fan for Life
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    Thanks so much for the book review! I can't wait to read it.

  12. #12
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Culture on Ice: Buy this Book!

    Gee Mathman, kind of takes the "joy" out of figure skating, don't you think? I think I will pass.

  13. #13
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Oh, not at all, LAD. For me, it gave a fresh perspective and added a new dimension to my enjoyment of the sport.

    Mathman

  14. #14
    Gliding Along dlkksk8fan's Avatar
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    I'm in the middle of reading the book now. The first part I didn't like, but it's getting better!

  15. #15
    Rinkside
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    Just placed an order for this book at my local Barnes & Noble this past Friday. I was told it would take approximately 7-10 business days for it to arrive. From the reviews I've read, I can't wait to read this book myself.

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