Sisters, Rivals, and Citizens: Venus and Serena Williams as a CaseStudy of American Identity Open Access

Hite, Michelle Sharron (2009)

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Abstract Sisters, Rivals, and Citizens: Venus and Serena Williams as a Case Study of American Identity By Michelle S. Hite The four chapters of this dissertation focus on tennis players Venus and Serena Williams as figures for an examination into American identity in this moment of late capitalism. An essential aspect of the Williams sisters' figuration in my work is the way they are symbolically understood to be anarchic women. As such, they function for the national community similar to the way that pariah women function in the local communities of Toni Morrison's fiction. This interdisciplinary work draws on diverse yet often mutually informing theoretical discourses such as literary theory, sports history, (black) feminist studies, disability studies, and cultural studies to engage the following core questions: 1.) What role does the representation of black women as anarchic figures play in clarifying the boundaries and bounty of citizenship in this late capitalist moment? 2.) In what ways are young black women athletes transforming political discourses of migration, travel, style, and the body? What are the implications of these changes? 3.) How do the mechanics of race and gender operate so as to simultaneously enable censure and celebrity? What utility can this insight have on the conceptualization of market versus civic relations? 4.) How can this specific case of the Williams sisters render less abstract the role of fraternity (if not sorority) for democracy?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents Introduction-1 Chapter 1 Anarchic Women and All-American Girls in the Age of Late Capitalism 17 Chapter 2 Routed in the Body: Venus and Serena Williams on the Women's Tour 77 Chapter 3 Playing with Style: Complicity and Black Female Self-Presentation in Postmodernity 139 Chapter 4 My Sister's Keeper: Rethinking Narratives of National Identity and Inevitable Violence 184 Conclusion 233 Bibliography 241

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