Thomas Harper, a folklife intern in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives section of WKU’s Special Collections Library, writes this about a collection he has recently processed:
Beginning in 2009, the Bowling Green sports scene was forever changed with the introduction of Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby. Vette City Roller Derby offers a thrilling, fast-paced spectacle of skill, speed and bone-jarring hits at each bout.
“Derby girls” come from all walks of life; they are women you know and interact with on a daily basis in the community. They are housewives, stay-at-home mothers, university professors, and other professionals. These amazing women share a common passion for competing in the sport and participating in the unique culture of roller derby, among them costuming and body art.
Folk studies graduate student Molly Bolick conducted ethnographic fieldwork during the fall of 2011 for her course in Folk Art (FLK 561). A copy of Bolick’s paper, Embodied Art: Identity, Adornment, and Style in Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby, is housed in WKU’s Folklife Archives. In her paper, Bolick explains that she centered her research around Pravina Shukla’s idea that everyday dress is a marker of identity in everyday life and can therefore be a means to explore personal differences within cultures. With Shukla’s basic model for the study of body art as her guide, Bolick focused her research on the personal choices of adornment, aesthetics, and taste in the dress of the individual skaters, and how these choices fit within the broad scope of “derby style,” yet maintained individual expression.
A finding aid for Embodied Art can be downloaded by clicking here. For more folklife collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.