Jennifer Avila

B.A./M.A. California State University, Los Angeles


Jennifer Doyle (Chair), Tiffany Lopez, Steven Axelrod

Research Areas:

Sports and Humanities; Sport Theory; Sport, Violence, and the Body in U.S. Latina/o and Chicana/o Literature; Traditional Gender Roles and Sport; Sport and Classroom Pedagogy

Research Interests:

My research interests are rooted in a humanities-based approach to sports studies, a field that is most popularly studied in the social sciences, but often overlooked in the humanities. Sport humanities, as it is sometimes called, involves an interdisciplinary examination of sports and athletes in relation to (but definitely not limited to) literature, art/visual studies, performance, culture, history, race, class, sexuality, and gender. In the words of theorist Robert Perinbanayagam, “games are neither empty nor are they frivolous undertakings: they are, rather, along with other features of culture (religion, music, theater, education) devices by which the culture instructs, controls, and enables its members to enrich their lives.” In this light, I wish to examine how the athlete can be seen as a performer, and how sport can operate as a cultural text/performance site. A major vehicle allowing me to conduct such an analysis is in looking at how sport-themed or sport-inclusive literature, from canonical works to the more obscure, reveals the ways in which sport can serve as a subtle, or not so subtle, way of understanding various aspects of human nature, from sexuality and gender to race and class. I am also interested in looking at how larger institutions, popular culture, and other various power structures commodify sports and athletes in various ways, similar to what we see among other art forms.

Recent Activity:

Conference Papers –

“Sports and Latina/o Literature, Culture, and Visual Art.” Presented at the 2014 PAMLA Conference, Riverside, CA. October 31, 2014.

“The Landscape of Sport in Latina/o and Chicana/o Literature.” Presented at the American Literature Association Latina/o Literature Symposium in San Antonio, Texas. March 8, 2014.

“Boxing, Masculinity, and Speaking the Unspoken: An Examination of Oliver Mayer’s Play Blade to the Heat.” Presented at Sport and Literature Association (SLA) Conference, Springfield College, Massachusetts. June 28, 2012.

“A Guy Don’t Talk About Those Things – Talking About Homosociality and Manhood in Oliver Mayer’s Blade to the Heat.” Presented at Shattering, California State University, Northridge Graduate Student Conference. March 3, 2012.

“Intertextuality and Cultural Caricature in Luis Valdez’s ‘I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinking Badges!’ and Culture Clash’s ‘The Mission.” Presented at PAMLA Conference, Scripps College. November 6, 2011.

Service –

Keynote Address. “Community College Day.” University of California, Riverside. March 4, 2011.

Panel member. “Chicana/Latina Graduate Student Panel.” Semana de la Mujer Celebration, Chicano Student Programs. University of California, Riverside. March 1, 2011.</>

Elected Representative, Graduate Students in English Association/Graduate Committee. University of California, Riverside, 2009-2010.