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

Hite, Michelle Sharron (2009)

Permanent URL:


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


Chapter 1
Anarchic Women and All-American Girls in the Age of Late Capitalism

Chapter 2
Routed in the Body: Venus and Serena Williams on the Women's Tour

Chapter 3
Playing with Style: Complicity and Black Female Self-Presentation in Postmodernity

Chapter 4
My Sister's Keeper: Rethinking Narratives of National Identity and Inevitable Violence



About this thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files