Kelsey Blair (PhD Candidate, SFU), “Theoretical Exchanges: The Structuring of Practice in Cultural Performance Genres and the Case of Canadian Women’s Basketball.”
Using historical sources on women and men’s basketball and her personal experience of playing as well as coaching, Blair successfully argues that women have had a significant role in the game’s development and how the vertical cylinder—originally intended to contain women’s bodies—can now be understood as a way that women basketball players learn to claim their space in the world at large as well. Blair’s paper is original and significant, convincingly building on Spatz’s theorizing of practice and technique as methods of embodied knowledge to develop her term “formation”, which identifies the structuring principles of practice. The paper presentation is clearly written and well organized, with care taken to succinctly explain concepts such as vertical plane, squaring up, etc., in order to keep a reader less familiar with basketball engaged with her theorizing. Blair’s dynamic and compelling presentation offers genuinely original discoveries about Canadian women and sport; but at its core, her investigation is about gendered space and the role sport plays in shaping (or un-making) gendered spaces.
The committee also wishes to congratulate its short-listed candidates for the 2018 prize, Kimberley Richards for her paper “Crude Cowboys at the Calgary Stampede” and Matthew Tomkinson for his “Cast-Off Casts: Overcoming Disability and Outgrowing Anxiety in Dear Evan Hansen.”