Andrew DenningSkiing into Modernity: A Cultural and Environmental History

University of California Press, 2015

by Bruce Bergland on December 30, 2015

Andrew Denning

View on Amazon

With El Niño and the Arctic Oscillation bearing down this December, plenty of us will be wishing for a white Christmas. We have the antidote – a podcast episode about snow-covered Alpine slopes, idyllic journeys through wintry hills and forests, rustic chalets, and dashing downhill racers.

Alpine skiing is little more than a century old, and its development was framed within the broader history of modern sports. Andrew Denning looks at the emergence of this winter activity and the history of the region where it was invented in his new book Skiing into Modernity: A Cultural and Environmental History. Part of the University of California Press' new series "Sport in World History," Andy's book shows how downhill skiing developed out of Nordic skiing and then supplanted that older version of the sport, becoming an activity that encompassed the modern love of speed as well as a romantic connection to nature. And as Alpine skiing gained adherents, it transformed the region where it was born. Once seen as a remote and backward corner of Europe, the Alps became a hub for tourists and the site of a distinct brand of modernity. Skiers escaped from the cities to enjoy the mountains, forests, and fresh air, while strapping on engineered bindings and skis, climbing aboard ski lifts and gondolas, and rushing down manicured slopes packed with artificial snow. As the subtitle states, Andy's book is indeed a cultural and environmental history, showing how an athletic activity grew out of a particular natural landscape, became widely embraced and celebrated in popular culture, and then – it its popularity – altered that original landscape into something new.

For another sample of "Sport in World History" series, check out the interview with Roger Kittleson about his book The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Charles FountainThe Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball

November 20, 2015

Gambling and sports have been in the news lately in the US. Authorities in Nevada and New York have shut down the fantasy sports operators DraftKings and FanDuel in their states, judging that their daily fantasy games constitute illegal gambling. Both companies had already come under scrutiny this past October, when news broke that their employees were scoring among […]

Read the full article →

David ZangI Wore Babe Ruth’s Hat: Field Notes from a Life in Sports

October 13, 2015

How would you write your sports memoir? Maybe you'd recall a memorable trip to the stadium when you were young, or even getting an autograph from one of your favorite players. Was there a notable victory – or defeat – that marked your days as a player? Or are the events that stand out from your athletic career characterized […]

Read the full article →

Annie BlazerPlaying for God: Evangelical Women and the Unintended Consequences of Sports Ministry

October 8, 2015

In her new book, Playing for God: Evangelical Women and the Unintended Consequences of Sports Ministry (NYU Press, 2015), Annie Blazer shows through archival research and participant-observation how the paradigm of sports ministry transformed from one centered on celebrity male athletes using their fame to explicitly call audiences to conversion to Christ, to one in which female athletes […]

Read the full article →

Leonard CassutoThe Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It

September 22, 2015

The discontented graduate student is something of a cultural fixture in the U.S. Indeed theirs is a sorry lot. They work very hard, earn very little, and have very poor prospects. Nearly all of them want to become professors, but most of them won't. Indeed a disturbingly large minority of them won't even finish their degrees. It's little […]

Read the full article →

David SnowdonWriting the Prizefight: Pierce Egan’s Boxiana World

September 4, 2015

When ESPN anchor Stuart Scott passed away from cancer this past January, he was widely hailed for his innovative style, which mixed heavy does of African American slang and pop culture references. His signature phrases are now commonly used terms in the American lexicon: "As cool as the other side of the pillow" and, of course, "Boo-Yah!" After the announcer's death, […]

Read the full article →

David George SurdhamThe Big Leagues Go to Washington: Congress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989

July 24, 2015

David George Surdham is the author of The Big Leagues Go to Washington: Congress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989 (University of Illinois Press, 2015). Surdham is Associate Professor of Economics at Northern Iowa University. Just back from the Major League Baseball All-Star break, Surdham has written a book for sports lovers. Why do major league sports […]

Read the full article →

Eric ReedSelling the Yellow Jersey: The Tour de France in the Global Era

July 17, 2015

The Tour de France is happening right now! The 2015 edition started on July 4th and will continue until July 26th. I'm excited to be able to share this interview with Eric Reed about his new book, Selling the Yellow Jersey: The Tour de France in the Global Era (University of Chicago Press, 2015) as […]

Read the full article →

Samir ChopraEye on Cricket: Reflections on the Great Game

June 27, 2015

Samir Chopra describes himself as a "cricket exile." For three decades, he has lived in a country where most people not only pay little attention to the sport, they actually dislike it, or at best treat it dismissively as a game of wimps and foreigners. The experience of being a cricket fan in America colors […]

Read the full article →

James A. Holstein, Richard S. Jones, and George Koonce, Jr.Is There Life After Football?: Surviving the NFL

March 17, 2015

The health of former NFL players has received plenty of attention in recent years. The suicides of Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, along with stories of retired players in only their 40s and 50s affected by dementia and ALS, have revealed the toll that a professional football career can take on a man's body and […]

Read the full article →