Dr. Kristi Allain’s ’95 interest in curling was first sparked while she was a Ph.D. student studying and teaching at Trent University during the Sochi Olympics. Professor Allain recalls, “During my men and masculinities class, one of my students pointed out that the way the Canadian Olympic team was talked about during the Games was similar to the ways people describe male hockey players.” From this in-class observation, Prof. Allain’s curiosity was peaked and a new line of research was born. “As sociologists,” she says, “we thought it was important to ask what it means when we try to turn Canadian curlers into hockey players?”
A member of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS), Prof. Allain was invited to deliver the first Aging & Society Seminar Series talk of 2017, sponsored by TCAS. The seminar series is aimed at sharing current aging research by bringing together Trent faculty, visiting scholars, students and community members for intimate, informal discussions. Prof. Allain’s talk, Swept Out of the House: Aging, National Identity and Curling’s Masculine Identity Crisis, examined the same issue first identified by her student. To that end, Prof. Allain argued that media representations of curling have moved away from a kind of masculine expression linked to older men and sociability to instead draw on the language and values of aggressive Canadian hockey-style masculinity. According to Prof. Allain, this has served to change a genial, multigenerational sport into something that celebrates youth, muscularity and aggression.
“As a Trent graduate and current member of TCAS, it’s a privilege to be invited back to share the work I began while I was a student here. In many ways,” Prof. Allain says. “It’s full circle for me. Barb Marshall has been pivotal to my success as a new scholar. As we’ve worked on our research together, she’s really helped shape my work and has pushed my analysis. Certainly, I couldn’t have asked for better mentorship, and I hope I can offer similar guidance to current students.”
Stephanie Dotto, Ph.D. candidate in Canadian Studies has worked with Professors Allain and Marshall as a research assistant and shares Prof. Allain’s sentiments. “I have had a very similar experience at Trent, just in terms of how approachable my professors are and how invested they are in my success. Getting to work with Prof. Allain, who graduated from the same program I’m enrolled in, and see her progress in her chosen field has helped me see what my own work can lead to. I’m excited to find out what opportunities lay ahead of me after graduation.”