International Studies | Topics in International Studies
I300 | 11337 | Lane, B.

TOPIC:Perspectives on Sports in 20th Century Global Culture

In less than a hundred years sports has become an essential, indeed
dominating part of our culture. It is a global joy, a global medium
of communication, a source of national identity and sometimes
international tensions – not the least a global business. What are
we to think of the astonishing rise of sports? How is it to be
explained and evaluated?

By focusing on four world events in 20th century sports culture –
the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the Heavyweight Championship Fight
Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman in Kinshasa 1974, the 1994 FIFA
World Cup in the USA and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, we will
investigate the multiple functions that sports fulfills in our
globalized society.

The course is interdisciplinary in design, using contemporary texts
from the fields of sociology, history, political science, media
studies, philosophy and the arts.

The task of the participants is to create their own understanding of
a phenomenon that is, for billions of people, one of the greatest
pleasures in their life, for many others, however, nothing
but “fascism in shorts”. Concretely, students will use different
analytical perspectives to think about global sports, such as the
perspective of a sociologist, a journalist and a political activist.
We will practice these critical perspectives by writing texts in
different genres, such as a commentary, a scholarly article and a
political speech.

We use a combination of documentary films, discussions and close
readings to accomplish our objectives. Students are expected to
complete discussion worksheets prior to class and then participate
in class discussions. Furthermore, students will be required to
write four response papers, each 2-3 pages long, as well as a final
research paper (8-10 pages).