On the Origins of Fitness in the History of the United States

Add to your calendar

Presented by Jürgen Martschukat, University of Erfurt

Lectures, talks and seminars

10th Mar 2017 12:10pm to 10th Mar 2017 1:30pm

Old Kirk 406 (F L Wood Seminar Room)

This paper traces the evolution of our understanding of fitness and its function in modern societies.

We live in an age of fitness. Fitness means more than the physical condition to succeed in sports, but the willingness and ability to work hard, pursue happiness, improve one’s existence, and lead a prosperous life. Today, this understanding of fitness seems almost self-evident, yet as the presentation will show, it is deeply embedded in modern history and the shaping of societies based on liberalism and competition as their core principles. Focusing on the history of the United States from the 18th century to the early 20th century, the presentation will show how this modern understanding of fitness evolved and how it developed into a most powerful concept and “regulatory ideal” of modern societies.

For more information contact: Dr Valerie Wallace

Speaker Bios

Jürgen Martschukat is Professor of North American History at Erfurt University and currently William Evans Visiting Fellow at the University of Otago. His research focuses on the history of violence, families, bodies, sports and genders. His latest book on Die Ordnung des Sozialen (Campus, 2013) won the Adams Award of the Organization of American Historians. Since 2012, he has been running several third party funded research projects on the history of food, fatness and fitness, among them a transdisciplinary and transnational research cooperation on the history and sociology of food and health in Germany and the United States, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. He is currently working on a history of fitness.