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The Professor is IN

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some of you know that I'm going to be teaching a course in the upcoming semester called "The Cultures of Basketball." I have a general sense of what I'd like to explore in the course -- the different meanings and stories we create around the game and the ways in which we create them -- and also a general sense of what I'd like the students to learn -- that their enjoyment of an activity that primarily serves as entertaining distraction can be enriched and complicated by thought, or, to put it in other words: that you can think about something you love without ruining it -- you can even love it more. But that's about all I know for sure. So I'm issuing an open invitation for suggestions. The course is for undergraduates. I don't know too much about the particular students I'll have, but from their responses to a querying e-mail I sent out, it appears they vary in experience from casual pick-up players and fans to members of my university's varsity men's team.  I'll welcome suggestions for materials (books, essays, movies, clips, songs, etc.) of course, but also especially ways of structuring the course itself (historically, by level, by topic, by the genre or type of media through which we create these meanings, etc.).


Rob Cosgrove,  December 15, 2010 at 5:31 PM  

Yago, first of all, I still love reading your work (here and at your old blog).

Secondly, I love this idea for a course, and I think that in addition to the media you suggested, I would consider a component that allows the course to produce knowledge about basketball cultures (perhaps a wiki that enables them to create and develop a cultural reference, e.g. an encyclopedia or a dictionary that includes old and new slang). In my day, getting "packed" or "faced" was slang for having your shot blocked. Now we have poster-ized (?) for getting dunked on, etc. I think a project that creates a wiki that you can build upon is a way to nurture one's love of the game without killing it with too much analysis while still cultivating an appreciation for (and attention to) what it means to produce knowledge of/about a culture.

Finally, I would recommend field trips (or field work) to games and gyms of all levels. The parochial school gym, small town high school gym, the big city gym (also public and private), etc. A rec-center gym, Crisler, The Palace--different levels, different gym smells and sounds, different attitudes of the bodies directed in play. I don't know if any cultural analysis need be done other than working on specificity and character of description. How do students of your class describe these places--what matters, what gets noticed, what is the character of culture of basketball present or how do they see it emerge? This could also be knowledge-production project, like a compendium on the gyms of Michigan (outdoor and playground courts would be another volume).

Those are two things that popped up in my mind.

I hope you have a great time with this,


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