Cover of Jennifer Kokai's book Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the performance of Race, Gender, and Nature. Cover contains author and title in yellow and white text overlaid ona blue watery background and a photo of a young woman in an bathing suit in a fish tank working as an "mermaid" surrounded by fish and sea plants.

Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the Performance of Race, Gender, and Nature

Author: Jennifer A. Kokai

Southern Illinois University Press, 2017

Theater in the Americas Series

Service: Indexing

Drawing on cultural associations with bodies of water, the spectacle of pretty women, and the appeal of the concept of “family-friendly” productions, performative aquatic spectacles portray water as an exotic fantasy environment exploitable for the purpose of entertainment.

In Swim Pretty, Jennifer A. Kokai reveals the influential role of aquatic spectacles in shaping cultural perceptions of aquatic ecosystems in the United States over the past century.

Examining dramatic works in water and performances at four water parks, Kokai shows that the evolution of these works and performances helps us better understand our ever-changing relationship with the oceans and their inhabitants.

Kokai sorts the regard for and harnessing of water in aquatic spectacles into three categories—natural, tamed, and domesticated—and discusses the ways in which these modes of water are engaged in the performances.

Ultimately, this study links the uncritical love of aquatic spectacles to a disregard for the rights of marine animals and lack of concern for the marine environment.

*Book description from publisher

Cover of Jennifer Kokai's book Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the performance of Race, Gender, and Nature. Cover contains author and title in yellow and white text overlaid ona blue watery background and a photo of a young woman in an bathing suit in a fish tank working as an "mermaid" surrounded by fish and sea plants.