Olympic effort: rhetorics of disability, sport, and resistance in the 2012 London Olympic narratives

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University of Alabama Libraries

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, held in London, England, stand as an international media spectacle from which cultural, political, and social narratives emerge within the athletic struggles of the event's competitors. Central to these narratives are the social constructions of the normative body, a concept that props up certain types of bodies as normal, natural, or ideal, while subjugating other types of bodies. Especially in athletic competition, where performance and ability are measured and ballyhooed, the ableist notions that some bodies are normal and some are abnormal construct hegemonic norms with worldwide reverberations. However, the participation of particular athletes in the qualification for, competition during, and commercial advertisements directly following 2012 Summer Olympic Games produced rhetorical space to challenge normative constructions. This critical cultural rhetorical dissertation examines how bodies of particular athletes within the 2012 Summer Olympics can act as spaces of resistance to hegemonic norms. By analyzing the narratives surrounding Keelin Godsey and Caster Semenya during qualification, Oscar Pistorius during competition, and Nike's Jogger commercial directly after the games, this dissertation stretches a critical disability studies lens in order to draw theoretical and political implications.

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