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Alumna Publishes Personal Look at Gender Politics in Figure Skating

Erica Rand, AM’81, PhD’89, published a book of essays–part cultural critique, part memoir–last year titled Red Nails, Black Skates: Gender, Cash, and Pleasures On and Off the Ice. The idea for the book began when Rand, a professor in women’s and gender studies and art and visual culture at Bates College, started figure skating and noticed the numerous ways in which the sport intersected with her academic interests: strict gender rules, class distinctions, and heavy emphasis on popular culture. For example, both male and female skaters must follow strict guidelines for apparel, such as white skates and short skirts for women, black skates and spandex–clingy, but still masculine–for men. The book contains Rand’s observations about the skating world from the point of view of a “self-identified queer femme in a heavily sequined sport.”

Read more about Rand’s research and the work of other UChicago alumni here.

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