Filmic sports history: Dawn Fraser, swimming and Australian national identity

Phillips, Murray G. and Osmond, Gary (2009) Filmic sports history: Dawn Fraser, swimming and Australian national identity. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 26 14: 2126-2142. doi:10.1080/09523360903303094

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Author Phillips, Murray G.
Osmond, Gary
Title Filmic sports history: Dawn Fraser, swimming and Australian national identity
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Journal name The International Journal of the History of Sport   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0952-3367
1743-9035
Publication date 2009-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/09523360903303094
Volume 26
Issue 14
Start page 2126
End page 2142
Total pages 18
Editor J.A. Mangan
Place of publication Abingdon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Subject C1
950102 Organised Sports
210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
200104 Media Studies
Abstract Among a multitude of social memory representations of Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser are several films, including a 1979 biopic, Dawn! This paper considers this feature film alongside other examples of filmic history, most particularly a 1964 documentary, The Dawn Fraser Story. While documentaries are generally valued more highly by historians than movies because of the perceived similarity of endeavour between documentary makers and written historians, in this case the biopic is more compelling because its narratives resonate more strongly with Fraser's role in swimming history, her connection with major national stereotypes and her position as a living sporting icon. In particular, Dawn! encapsulates a dominant, yet mythical, feature of Australian identity - the larrikin - through representations of Fraser as an anti-authoritarian, working-class 'battler'. Simultaneously, however, the movie disrupts this larrikin portrayal through its depiction of Fraser's sexuality, and in particular a lesbian relationship, a parallel but competing theme which is trumped by larrikinism not only in subsequent filmic histories of the swimmer but in wider cultural representations of Fraser.
Formatted abstract

Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Special Issue: Australasia and the Pacific

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
ERA 2012 Admin Only
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Created: Sun, 22 Nov 2009, 06:49:09 EST by Deborah Noon on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences