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

Hite, Michelle Sharron (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/fx719n026?locale=en
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Abstract


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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