Mary Louise Adams, PhD

PhD (University of Toronto)

MA (University of Kent)

BA (Trent University)


Contact Information


Telephone: 613-533-6000 x74723

Office:  KINE 301Q



Undergraduate Courses

HLTH 333 - Contemporary Issues in Human Sexuality

KNPE 167 - Socio?Cultural Dimensions of Sport and Physical Activity

KNPE 367 - Fitness, the Body and Culture

KNPE 473 - Sport and Culture


Graduate Courses

KHS 873 - Cultural Studies of Sport and Physical Exercise

KHS 869 - Sport and Social Theory


Research Summary

My research program investigates the relationship between bodies, styles of movement, and discourses about gender and sexuality. Gendered styles of movement are important means of differentiating social groups and are tremendously powerful representations of ideology, all the more so because they feel and appear so natural. Yet the types of movement considered appropriate for male and female bodies are far from natural; they evolve in particular historical and cultural contexts. In my work I explore how conventions of movement are linked to common sense knowledges about gender, sexuality and sport. How should male and female bodies move? What should they look like? In what contexts should they appear? How do we experience them? The goal of my work is to complicate our understanding of the factors that shape social inequities and to look at the effects of everyday cultural forms like sport and dance on gender and sexual identities. In exploring the complexity of these two categories, I try to make evident some of the ways they intersect with discourses of nationality, class and race. My hope is that challenging taken-for-granted notions about gender and sexuality can help to expand our ideas about masculinity and femininity and their relationship to male and female bodies. I base my work on the assumption that sport and other forms of movement should open up opportunities for how individuals might chose to live their lives rather than restrict them. My current projects look at the gender history of figure skating and at the history of men's dancing. I am interested in how the conceptual boundary between sport and art gives different meanings to moving bodies. My book project, Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity and the Limits of Sport draws on historical research to make sense of current, limited understandings of figure skating as a sport for girls and sissies.This project has led to a number of smaller related projects on gender and movement/sport: a case study of men's dance as an exploration of the concept of effeminacy; a contemporary study of the politics of ice-time and public access to limited municipal recreational resources; a re-evaluation of physical strength as a valued goal in feminist writings on sport; a historical consideration of gender de-segregation in sport.


Graduate Student Opportunities

I am interested in supervising graduate students with an orientation towards sociology or cultural studies of the body, sport, and exercise, especially (but not only!) as these relate to genders and sexualities.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to apply for scholarships and awards offered through the Ontario Graduate Scholarship program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), and other agencies that provide funding to graduate students. Deadlines for these competitions generally fall in October -- several months before the deadlines for our graduate programs. Only students who have already applied for funding from these external agencies will be eligible for the various fellowships and awards offered by Queen's University to incoming students.


Recent Publications

Artistic Impressions: Figure Skating, Masculinity and the Limits of Sport. University of Toronto, forthcoming February 2011.

“From mixed-sex sport to sport for girls: The feminization of figure skating.” Sport in History 30, no. 2 (June 2010), pp. 218-241.

“Sexuality and the postwar domestic revival.” In Family Patterns, Gender Relations, edited by Bonnie Fox. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2009. pp. 137-155. (reprint)

“The trouble with normal: Postwar youth and the making of heterosexuality.” In Rethinking Society in the 21stCentury, edited by Michelle Webber and Kate Bezanson. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2008. pp. 237-246. (reprint)

“The Manly History of a Girls’ Sport: Gender, Class and the development of nineteenth-century figure skating.”International Journal for the History of Sport 24, no. 7 (July 2007), pp. 872-893.

“Response to Helstein’s ‘Seeing your sporting body,’” Sociology of Sport Journal 24, no. 1 (March 2007), pp. 104-108

“The game of whose lives? Notes on gender and identity in a hockey mad culture.” In Artificial Ice Hockey, Commerce and Cultural Identity, edited by David Whitson and Richard Gruneau. Toronto: Broadview Press, 2006. pp. 71-84.

“‘Death to the prancing prince’: Effeminacy, sport discourses and the salvation of men’s dancing.” Body and Society 11, no. 4 (December 2005), pp. 63-86.

“Freezing social relations: Artificial ice and the social history of skating.” In Sites of Sport: Spaces, Place Experience, edited by Patricia Vertinsky and John Bales. London: Routledge, 2004. pp. 57-72.

“Margin notes: Reading lesbianism as obscenity in a cold War courtroom.” In Love, Hate and Fear in Canada’s Cold War, edited by Richard Cavell. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. pp. 135-158.