Lance+Armstrong - BODIES, NARRATIVES, ISSUES / November...

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10.1177/0193723504269907 BODIES,NARRATIVES,SELVES,AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY TRENDS BODIES, NARRATIVES, SELVES, AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY The Example of Lance Armstrong Andrew C. Sparkes This article focuses on Lance Armstrong’s autobiography titled It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life . From a perspective informed by autobiographical studies and the sociology of the body and illness, insights are provided into a variety of bodies, selves, and narratives that circulate within the text. The case is made that early in his sporting career, Armstrong develops a disciplined and dominating body that has an elective affinity for the cyborg narrative. On being diagnosed with cancer, these ideal body types lead him toward a restitution narrative.The illness experience,however ,pro- vides an opportunity for a communicative body to emerge that links him to a quest narrative. On returning to elite sport, former body-self relation- ships are restored and foregrounded. Issues are raised regarding the cul- tural shaping of Armstrong’s autobiography, and its form and content are problematized. Keywords: Lance Armstrong; autobiography; illness; narratives; selves; bodies; restitution; quest I n 1996, Lance Armstrong was the top-ranked cyclist in the world. Inthesameyear ,hewasa lsod iagnosedw ithStage4test icu lar cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs, giving him below a 40% chance of survival. Less than 3 years after being diagnosed, having undergone surgery to remove a testicle, and following chemotherapy treat- ment, brain surgery, and the subsequent remission of the disease, Armstrong won the Tour de France in 1999. 1 In achieving this victory, Butryn and Masucci (2003) suggest that Armstrong made “perhaps the most astonishing comeback in contemporary sports history” (p. 124). In 2000, age 28, Armstrong (with the aid of writer Sally Jenkins) pub- lished his autobiography titled It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life . Using this text as a resource to explore Armstrong’s life, Butryn and Masucci (2003) raise a number of issues for debate regarding the kinds of
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gies used to maintain it, along with the role this technology plays in the creation and recreation of cyborg identities. For them, in a sport that has a long history of embracing technology in the pursuit of results, Armstrong has recognized and adopted the latest technological developments in equip- ment .However ,theysuggest
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Lance+Armstrong - BODIES, NARRATIVES, ISSUES / November...

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