At the intersection of sport, entertainment and performance, wrestling occupies a unique position in British popular culture. This is the first book to offer a detailed historical and cultural analysis of British professional wrestling, exploring the shifting popularity of the sport as well as its wider social significance.
Arguing that the history of professional wrestling can help us understand key themes in sport, culture and performance that span the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it addresses topics such as: attitudes towards violence, representations of masculinity, the media and celebrity culture, consumerism and globalisation. By drawing on a variety of intellectual traditions and disciplines, the book explores the role of power in the development of popular cultural forms, the ways in which history structures the present, and the manner in which audiences construct identity and meaning through sport.
Wrestling in Britain: Sporting Entertainments, Celebrity and Audiences is fascinating reading for all students and researchers with an interest in media and cultural studies, histories and sociologies of sport, or performance studies.
"Wrestling in Britain provides a thorough rereading of this important form but, more than this, it contributes to and reimagines narratives of British sports history, performance and popular culture. The scholarship in this volume also provides readers with new insights into celebrity, the development of television, and media production. The first full-length study of British professional wrestling history, it is a welcome, dynamic addition to many diverse fields." - Claire Warden, De Montfort University, UK
"As British professional wrestling finds itself in a period of resurgence, Wrestling in Britain serves as a timely interrogation of the history of this unique leisure pursuit. Litherland’s work reflects on wrestling’s complex relationship with ‘reality’ across a number of fields, and illustrates a historical context which can help make sense of contemporary practices of sport, celebrity, and fandom." - Tom Phillips, University of East Anglia, UK
1. The Field Vs the Stage
2. "Are the Bouts Rigged?" The Enduring Possibility of Sporting Entertainment
3. "Equally Vociferous Both for And Against": Compromise, Conflict and Pleasure
4. Villains, Blue-Eyes and The Melodrama of Celebrity
5. "Everything Is Eventually Going to Find Its Way on The Goggle-Box": Television and Spectacle