PCS Ph.D. student Sam Clevenger and Professor Shannon Jette recently published an article in the international journal Sport, Education and Society concerning the intersection of republican political ideology, nationalism, and militarization in the promotion of physically active coursework at Maryland Agricultural College, the nineteenth-century institution that would eventually become the University of Maryland. The article challenges dominant understandings of the history of American physical education by exploring the active body’s relation to political ideology and the idealization of national citizenship within historical contexts outside the focus of late nineteenth-century organized physical education.
The article is titled “From ‘cultivators of the soil’ to ‘citizen-soldier’: physically active education and the nation at Maryland Agricultural College”. A link to the article can be found here.
Below is the article’s abstract:
In 1866, military drill and instruction became part of the curriculum of Maryland Agricultural College as a result of the passage of the Morrill Act of 1862, a law setting the terms for the establishment of agricultural colleges across the USA. The introduction of military instruction meant a direct inclusion of physically active coursework that preceded the widespread emergence of organized physical education courses in American educational institutions. However, this was not the first time physical activity was used and discussed at the college: previously, the uses of physical activity at the college wholly entailed outdoor agricultural practice in which students applied pedagogical training about agricultural techniques in the field. In this paper, we examine early Maryland Agricultural College printed discourse from 1859 to 1886, studying how the college shifted focus from idealizing the Republican male citizen as a physically active farmer or ‘cultivator of the soil’ in the years preceding the American Civil War to a physically active ‘citizen-soldier’ in response to the social and political effects of the conflict. Our analysis sheds light on the historical place of such physical activity coursework within the larger historical narrative of American physical education’s emergence, and also provides useful historical context for critically viewing linkages between physical culture, nationalism, agricultural education and the military in contemporary physical education.