Critical Sports Studies

Spring 2014 Schedule


Course Descriptions

ETHN 3104 (001):  Topics in American Studies – Introduction to Critical Sport Studies
Instructor:  Jenny Lind Withycombe
Fall, Spring, Maymester Ongoing

The world of sport touches all of us in one way or another.  We participate in sports.  We watch sports.  We read about sports.  We dream about making it to the professional ranks.  What makes sport so central to our very existence?  This course is devoted to helping students to think in an informed and critical way about sports in society.  In it we will examine the socio-cultural significance of sports as it relates to topics such as youth, social class, race/ethnicity, gender, identity, and intercollegiate athletics.  Readings, class discussions, videos, and guest speakers will help us to expand our understanding of this important social phenomenon.

ETHN 3101 (001):  Topics in American Studies – Women, Sport and Culture
Instructor:  Jenny Lind Withycombe
Fall Ongoing

The purpose of this course is to critically examine the experiences of girls and women in American sport from a psycho-socio-cultural perspective with a particular emphasis on the constructs of gender, race, class, and sexuality and how these constructs both independently and collectively mediate the female sport experience.  This course will explore theories and interpretive frameworks from sport studies, feminist studies, race studies, psychology and cultural studies. 

ETHN 3102 (001):  Topics in African American Studies – The African American Sport Experience
Instructor:  Jenny Lind Withycombe
Spring Ongoing

This course seeks to explore and examine the historical and contemporary socio-cultural experiences and contributions of African Americans in American sport.  This course will examine the topic from an exploratory and critical perspective.  We will explore specific historical and contemporary social trends and examine how those trends impact American society in general and African Americans in sport specifically.  I am also very interested in the impact course information has on you, the student.  Consequently, your feedback (participation in class discussions & feedback on written critiques) is critical to the success of this class.  The class will consist primarily of lecture, films, critique summaries, and discussions.

ETHN 3104 (003):  Topics in American Studies – The Governance of Sport
Instructor: Roger Pielke Jr.
Spring 2014

The goal of this course is to introduce students to issues of governance in various societal settings as viewed through the lens of sport. As Jens Sejer Andersen has noted, “Sport is an expression of civilization.” Through readings, discussions and individual and group projects students will engage a wide range of scholarly and popular literature, film and guest speakers to critically engage important issues that arise in the governance of sport. In this year’s course case studies that we will engage include the role of technological augmentation in sport, policies delineating participation eligibility in the Olympics according to gender, societal and policy responses to concussions in the NFL, equity in journalism related to sports reporting, genetics and athletic performance, doping in sport, sport as a laboratory for understanding prediction and decision making, and gender equity in sport and beyond. The student should emerge from this class with tools of critical thinking and analysis, along with greater substantive knowledge of various interesting and important cases in the governance of sport.  This course is designed to be intellectually challenging but also rewarding.

WRTG 3020 (062, 069): Sports in American Culture
Instructor: Peter Kratzke
Spring 2014 (2 sections)

This section of WRTG 3020 will examine how sports not only define but, sometimes, even transcend their competitive boundaries.  That they do is easy to spot: in 1971, people everywhere were mesmerized by a chess match--a chess match!--between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky; in 1980, folks far from the frozen ponds of the upper Midwest pulled over in their cars, honking their horns to the US Hockey Team's "Miracle on Ice."  This Spring Semester, we shall examine why such moments register and ripple in our collective conscious and, so, have both reflected and informed American history.  As such, the course should appeal to those with interests in Sociology, History, American Studies, and the like. 

More important than our emphasis on American sports culture and history, our curricular mission will center on improving your writing--WRTG 3020, after all, fulfills the core writing requirement.  To be clear: our topic will provide only the occasion for you to develop your argumentative and language skills.  At the same time, I like to say, "Writing is a sport."  To get you really for the "playing field," assignments will include tests, short exercises, and three sustained essays.