HIST 311S: Men, Women, and Sports

SYNOPSIS: From eye-gouging to Muhammad Ali and Girlfight, Mia Hamm to the Superbowl, the nature of sports in the U.S. has dramatically changed. Using films, scholarly articles, essays, and documents, this course examines the shifting terrain of sports in the U.S. beginning in the 19th century, including the way sports have been tied to and expressed ideals of manhood and womanhood, race, class, and nation, and the development of sports as spectacle and enterprise.

Students will deepen their ability to analyze both sports and history, will hone their historical understanding (involving dynamics of change and stasis, context and contingency, human agency and its limits), and will strengthen their critical thinking and writing skills.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers can be professionals from different backgrounds with ANY relationship to sports: media, health/medicine, law, policy, business, economics, marketing, gender or institutional inequity. Readers do need to have a general interest in topics related to sports.


Two short (5 page) essays: the first short essay will try to make sense of (develop an analysis of) the range of depiction and coverage of the Johnson-Jeffries fight revealed by the material from newspapers of the time; the second will try to make sense of the way that other scholars have approached your research topic.

One 15-20 page research essay: the essay is on an approved topic of the student’s choice; students must meet with instructor within the first four weeks of the class to discuss possible research topics. In mid-February all students will have an approved topic for their research paper.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Focus on the intelligibility of the research paper, accessibility, and liveliness of writing. Most important is the “So, what?” question. Why should someone want to read this? Why does it matter? How interesting is the piece overall?

In general, what the instructor looks for is originality of thought, clarity and coherence (including the development of an original argument/thesis), insight and nuanced analysis of the material (engaging text, context, and subtext), and clear connection between evidence and analysis. It is a real bonus if the writing is also fun to read – colorful, to the point, and engaging. Fluff is out!


At the latest:

by 30. January: introductory meeting (in-person, on the phone, or virtually e.g. Skype)

by 7. February: abstracts/short description of projects due to reader,

by 10. February: 1st substantial meeting with reader to discuss the ideas in the abstract

by first week in April: send first draft to reader

by week of 8. April: discuss first draft with reader

by 22. April: second draft due to reader, and discussion before 28. April (paper due to professor on 28. April!!)


INTRODUCTORY MEETING: Please schedule your introductory meeting as soon as possible after you have received the matching email. Find details for the introductory meeting http://dukereaderproject.org/students/intro-meeting/