Ambidexterity: agency, multi-ethnic differential movements, and ideology in baseball literature, film, and performance




Moreira, Robert P.

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This dissertation argues that US and Latin American baseball fiction, films, and performances on and off the baseball field represent unexplored archives of uniquely racialized and gendered subaltern subjectivities that are being constructed through myriad negotiations of power. This dissertation: 1) exposes the ways in which the defamation of subaltern groups has been normalized in US baseball discourse and 2) maps Latina/o, Native American, Afro-Latino, and African American female negotiations of these effacements and corresponding oppressions. Building on Chicana third space feminism, postcolonial, and post-structural theories, I introduce the term ambidexterity, which I define as a praxis of meta-ideologizing that identifies, negotiates, and embodies in opposition to ideologized subaltern constructions within baseball-themed texts and performances. In "Preface" I discuss my personal connections with the game of baseball and the origins of my theory of ambidexterity as it relates to notions of ideology, power, and popular culture. My introduction contextualizes and defines the praxis of ambidexterity by discussing its origins within the traditions of mestiza/o consciousness, third space navigations, and differential consciousness. That is, through ambidexterity, I am able to "read" baseball texts in order to expose subaltern effacements as well as map the successes and limitations of negotiations within these lacunas. By centering my analysis thus, I supplement ongoing critical discussions surrounding subaltern poetics, politics, and agencies. In Chapter One I uncover survivance and trans-american ambidexterities in baseball-themed prose by Sherman Alexie, Ana Menéndez, and Sergio Ramírez, mapping the strengths and limitations of each authors' ambidextrous attempts to disrupt baseball's metonymy to US hegemony. In Chapter Two I employ ambidexterity as a hermeneutic to examine the baseball films Bull Durham (1988), The Sandlot (1993), and Sugar (2009), which I argue exhibit unique ambidextrous elements that complicate, as well as promote, meta-ideologies and oppositional spectatorships. Chapter Three examines the embodied ambidexterities of mestizo male Cuban Adolfo Luque in the 1920s and female African American Little Leaguer Mo'ne Davis in 2014. I argue for Luque's mestizo ambidexterity in the guise of mimetic violence as counter-movements aimed at negotiating his racializations on and off the baseball diamond. This chapter also maps Mo'ne Davis's Black feminist ambidexterities as resistances to heteronormative and misogynist prescriptions of female baseball players. This dissertation ends with discussions surrounding the extent to which ambidexterity can be deployed vis-a-vis Antonio Gramsci's notion of organic intellectualism. I discuss my own ambidextrous interventions within the baseball-themed literature including my edited collection of Latina/o baseball short fiction, ¡Arriba Baseball!, and how and why the impetus for that collection emerged to contest the mostly all-White, all-male canon of baseball fiction. Most importantly, I ask questions concerning the praxis of ambidexterity and whether it is just a term for baseball and its ideological nexus, and whether or not it can be expanded to describe academics, pedagogical styles, and other types of emancipatory work and sites.


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ambidexterity, baseball films, baseball literature, Mo'ne Davis