The performance of physical transformation poses a methodological challenge for historians of 19th- and 20th-century physical culture: it is primarily the still image that evidences a dynamic, embodied practice. The archive of Stanley Rothwell (1904–1986) — British miner, artist’s model, bodybuilder, boxer, wrestler, writer, and physical educator — reveals the sculpted masculine “ideal” as a performance of becoming, in which the image is constantly trained, constructed, and rebuilt through repetition, allowing for the possibility of difference.

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