Water, Leisure and Culture: European Historical Perspectives

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Susan C. Anderson, Bruce Tabb
Bloomsbury Academic, Sep 1, 2002 - History - 272 pages
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Dancing on the beach after a swim in the Mediterranean, taking the waters in fashionable Baden-Baden, boating on the Black Sea – the myriad uses of water imply that the term itself possesses multiple meanings. Focusing on Europe, this book addresses how using water for relaxation intersects with ideas about class, gender, nationality, and consumption. It also explores the ways Europeans have turned to water for pleasure, relaxation, and profit over the last two hundred years as the enjoyment of free time developed from a privilege into a right. Contributors capture key moments of social and cultural transition in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries — moments during which new social distinctions emerged, debates about nationalism and cosmopolitanism flourished, concepts of hygiene became politicized, and attitudes about travel and vacationing developed.

What kinds of relationships exist between recreational uses of water and cultural, social, or political practices? How have such relationships found representation in art, landscaping, or architecture? Who visits water resorts or beaches and what role have these places played in the emergence of collective identities or in lending authority to social distinctions? How does the organization of leisure activities around water reflect ideas about purity and pollution, in a moral, social, or physical sense?

This exciting venture into ‘uncharted waters’ will fascinate historians, geographers and anyone with a keen interest in European cultural studies, art and landscape.

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About the author (2002)

Susan C. Anderson is Associate Professor, University of Oregon. Bruce Tabb is Associate Professor, University of Oregon.

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