RCHUMS 334 - Special Topics in the Humanities
Section: 004 The Cultures of Basketball
Term: WN 2014
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

In this course we will study the game of basketball —

  • its nuts and bolts (what is a "pick and roll"? What is a point guard? What is a "pick-up" game? And how do you get in one?),
  • history (where did the game originate? What was its early amateur and professional history? What about basketball outside of institutional contexts? Did players always make so much money? What about the evolution of the National Basketball Association, the Women's National Basketball Association, and international competition? What role has the media played in the history of the game?),
  • aesthetic and cultural meanings (what is the nature of play? of games? of sports? Can we speak of basketball as beautiful? as art? what is the relationship between rules and creativity? between individual and collective activity?), and
  • social and political dimensions (what roles to race and class play in shaping the game and its culture? and what role does the game play in shaping attitudes about race and class? What about international politics and its relationship to the game? How does a consideration of gender affect our view of the game and its culture, and vice-versa?).

The course will include some of the following:

    hands-on experience in the gym or (weather permitting) playground, viewing of media and instructional clips,
  1. histories of the game,
  2. memoirs authored by famous players (such as those by Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and others) and not so famous players (Pat Conroy and Ira Berkow),
  3. editorial commentary (whether book-length, such as Darcy Frey's The Last Shot or in blog form such as freedarko.com), and
  4. fiction (Hoosiers, He Got Game) and non-fiction film (Rebound: The Legend of Earl "The Goat" Manigault).

Course will also involve regular informal, brief response papers as well as a mid-term and final paper.

RCHUMS 334 - Special Topics in the Humanities
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
M 8:00PM - 10:00PM
W 7:00PM - 10:00PM
MW 7:00PM - 9:30PM
002 (SEM)
1RC Ugrd
W 3:00PM - 6:00PM
004 (SEM)
1RC Ugrd
WF 1:00PM - 2:30PM
005 (SEM)
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
007 (SEM)
M 2:00PM - 5:00PM
Note: Class will meet at the Detroit Center, as part of the Semester in Detroit.
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 1608190838
The undisputed guide to pro basketball history., Publisher: Bloomsbury 2010
ISBN: 0803270852
Elevating the game : Black men and basketball, Author: Nelson George., Publisher: University of Nebraska Press 1999
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 9780803280533
Under the boards : the cultural revolution in basketball, Author: Jeffrey Lane., Publisher: University of Nebraska Press 2007
ISBN: 9781438442068
After Artest : the NBA and the assault on Blackness, Author: David J. Leonard., Publisher: State University of New York Press
ISBN: 9780803216754
Young, black, rich, and famous : the rise of the NBA, the hip hop invasion, and the transformation of American culture, Author: Todd Boyd ; with a new introduction by the author., Publisher: University of Nebraska Press 1. pbk. pr 2008
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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