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Chapter 31: Visualizing Play

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By positioning cycling as a form of both sport and everyday mobility, bicycle manufacturers sought to reflect and reinforce the period’s broader social and cultural associations about fresh air, sport, and health. As Gillian Poulter explains (Chapter 22), by the last two decades of the nineteenth century, women were finding more “respectable” opportunities for participation in physical activity, something also reflected in these advertisements.

  1. How might we read Figure 1 as an effort to associate Massey-Harris bicycles not only with ideals of sporting bodies (bourgeois Victorians) but also with political ideals of liberal citizenship in this period, especially that of “freedom”?
  2. Why do you think the “lady cyclist” depicted in Figure 2 is set into that particular landscape? Why not situate her clearly within a turn-of-the-century industrializing “modern” city?

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The interwar period was not only pivotal to the politics of booze, as Dan Malleck (Chapter 27) explains, but it was also a time of massive socio-economic upheaval that affected Canadians unevenly (especially with respect to social class).

  1. Figures 3 and 4 each depict a man wishing to have a drink at the end of his work day, but they encourage very different emotional responses in the viewer. What kinds of emotional responses are cultivated? How do text and image work together in each advertisement to map such different emotional landscapes of drink?
  2. How do the various masculinities and spaces of play depicted in Figures 5-8 compare and contrast to those discussed in the chapters by R. Blake Brown (Chapter 23) and Russell Field (Chapter 26)?

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Since the early twentieth century, postcards have been a quintessential artifact of tourism. Inexpensive to send, postcards have allowed mass-produced images of tourist destinations to circulate around the world. These four images all depict human encounters with bears in Jasper and Banff National Parks through the first four decades of the twentieth century.

These four images were all drawn from the same archival collection, originally assembled by Toronto’s Department of Health in 1912–1913 as part of efforts to survey and regulate issues of public health in the city.

  1. How does each postcard offer a “funny” scene? If we agree that humour is historically and culturally specific, how can historians go about translating humour across time and space?

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This is a series of posed portrait photographs depicting professional athletes in the 1940s and 1950s. Barbara Ann Scott and Maurice Richard were very famous at the time, while the other athletes in these photographs were better known regionally or to specific audiences.

  1. In light of the examples provided by Colin D. Howell (Chapter 24), how did Figures 13 and 14 offer a “heroic” depiction of Scott and Richard?
  2. offer a “heroic” depiction of Scott and Richard? 2) Why are the athletes in Figures 15–17 not depicted “in action” as Scott and Richard? What is being depicted in these photographs?