"Fight Forever" Kanji and Charli!
Last Saturday, Sam West (Wrestling Resurgence producer and Loughborough University PhD student) and I led an event as part of Loughborough University Arts Week. This time last year we were hosting a sell-out Resurgence show, 'Angry Dancing', as part of this Week. Obviously there is no live wrestling this year. Instead, Sam and I chatted about the Ironwoman match between Charli Evans and Kanji last year. After a week that rocked British wrestling, talking about two talented women wrestlers who put on one of the best wrestling matches I have ever seen really felt quite cathartic and joyous. Sam and I discussed wrestling scholarship and storytelling, then showed the match, and then answered a bunch of questions. If you'd like to watch this match, and the two lead up matches between Charli and Kanji, then you can find them here on Resurgence's YouTube page, along with The Grappling Arts podcast Sam and I recorded with these two amazing performers a couple of weeks ago. The whole night was a reminder of how wonderful British wrestling can be.
"Fight Forever" Kanji and Charli!
Over the past 24 hours, British Wrestling has witnessed some serious allegations. I have always celebrated wrestling's collegial embodied practices, its diversity, its promotion of health and fitness, the laughter, the joy of cheering and booing. Despite this, I recognise it has, historically, had a seriously dark underside of misogyny, violence and bullying. My sincere, and perhaps naive, hope was that this darkness had been eradicated. Clearly, not yet...
Wrestling Resurgence puts out and stands by the following statement:
Led by our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer (Dr Juliette Taylor-Batty), the Executive Committee of the British Association of Modernist Studies have published a statement on recent events. Over the past month I have been challenged to listen more and speak less. But I also recognise the need to speak. So I am very glad to promote this statement and stand by its contents.
...if you have ever mulled over this question, then panic not, friends! I have a new chapter for that. I am pleased to say that my chapter on Drama in the 1930s has just been published in the new The Cambridge Companion to British Literature of the 1930s. I am delighted to see this in print, alongside chapters from a whole host of illustrious modernists. Rather brilliantly, my chapter is one of those available open-access on Google Books. Do let me know if it inspires any questions or thoughts.
Here is the abstract so you can decide if it worth your reading time:
In 1938, Stephen Spender imagined a ‘revolution in the ideas of drama’, a theatre that could both deal with the complex socio-politics of the decade and take on new aesthetic challenges. The trouble, of course, was what this drama might look like in practice. In fact, in addressing the multifarious artistic and political disputes of this period, drama in the 1930s resists easy critical definition, residing in a liminal sense betwixt and between positions, terminology, and aesthetics. It can be read as highbrow, lowbrow, or middlebrow, with many individual examples flitting between these permeable categories.
I am very glad to say that the second episode of The Grappling Arts is now out. This is Wrestling Resurgence's new podcast in which Sam and I chat with some of the leading wrestlers on the independent British scene about their practice, style and storytelling process. This week we sat down with two of the best - Kanji and Charli Evans - whose Ironwoman match from August last year is still my favourite ever Resurgence match (and the competition for the coveted position is fierce indeed). You can download it from the podcast site of your choice. Here is the YouTube premiere if you fancy accessing it that way. Don't forget to review/star/give it the thumbs up/subscribe/however else you express a positive opinion on the platform of your choice.
As the world, and the US in particular, struggles with its racial history and as folks protest, here is the fantastic The OJMO sharing some thoughts. If you would like to see one of the best wrestling shows (period) I have ever seen then you can watch Roy Johnson/Wrestling Resurgence's 'Everything Patterned' show. All proceeds from the Video on Demand and the 'zine will be donated.
With everything "going on" right now, you might need a little bit of new wrestling scholarship. If so then I got you covered. My new article 'Queer Music-Hall Sport: All-In Wrestling and Modernist Fakery' has just been published my Modernism/modernity. I am still quite amazed that this great journal agreed to publish this article at all! It is the first time I have tried to uncover resonances between the disparate bits of my research. At first it didn't seem that wrestling and modernism had that much to say to each other. Hopefully this article begins to prove this assumption incorrect. It connects the 1930s' history of British professional wrestling to broader modernist concerns about fakery, pretence and lies. There are some fun stories in there, as well as some theoretical stuff, and, best of all, I managed to sneak mentions of Jerry 'The King' Lawler v Andy Kaufmann (1982) and the Parents' Television Council's law 2001 lawsuit against the WWE into the footnotes of the world's leading modernist journal!
Currently you can access the article for free through the journal's own website here. But if a paywall ever reappears then you can find a green-access version at Loughborough University's repository here. The article is published with huge thanks to everyone at Modernism/modernity, Andy Frayn (who managed to solve my framing problem for me), Ben Litherland (who kindly read the article and offered lots of helpful suggestions) and everyone at Wrestling Resurgence for inspiring me to write it in the first place.