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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 25, 2007

Birrell to discuss 'Imperial Everest' at Oct. 1 International Mondays lecture

Noted scholar Susan Birrell will lecture on "Imperial Everest" as part of the International Mondays Lecture Series, from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library. The lecture is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Birrell is a professor in the University of Iowa Department of Health and Sport Studies with joint appointments in the Departments of American Studies and Women's Studies in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Her research offers a critical examination of power imbalances such as race, class, gender and ethnicity in the media's portrayal of sports.

Her book, "Reading Mt. Everest: History, Narrative Power," investigates stories that surround the climbing of Mt. Everest, exploring how these stories reinforce dominant notions about gender, nationality and ethnicity.

"My interest in Everest was sparked by the events of 1996 when 10 people died in a single day, making it the deadliest year in Everest history," Birrell said. "That tragedy focused public attention on Everest for the first time since 1953. I was struck by the amount of attention to this incident."

Birrell has written numerous articles on the subject, and co-edited the anthology "Women, Sport, and Culture" with C.L. Cole, a 1992 UI alumna and professor of advertising and gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois.

As one of the first scholars to apply a feminist approach to the study of sport, Birrell's most recent research highlights cultural implications of sports narratives and their representations to the public, which is noted in a collection of essays she co-edited with Mary McDonald, "Reading Sport: Essays on Power and Representation." McDonald is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Education, Health and Sport Studies at Miami University, and a 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa.

"I want people to understand Everest as more than a site for high adventure and heroism [but], to see the way that nationalistic forces play," Birrell said.

UI International Programs, the Stanley-UI Support Foundation and the Iowa City Public Library are sponsoring this International Mondays lecture.

For more information on this lecture, the International Mondays lecture series, or special accommodations to attend, contact Buffy Quintero, International Programs outreach coordinator, at 319-335-0345 or

University of Iowa International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE:  University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa to attend, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Buffy Quintero, International Programs, 319-335-0345,; Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Christy B. Logan