Browse Student Communities and Culture by Series/Report "Instructor's overview of KIN 199, "Sport, Play & Ethnography," Fall 2008 There were 17 freshmen in the Discovery/EUI course; all but two students were undeclared majors. I had two main objectives for the semester: First, I wanted to introduce students to cultural ethnographic method/theory and criticism related to the study of contemporary sport and play; in the course we were free and broad with definitions of both sport and play. To accomplish this first objective, we studied older “classic” works (such as Clifford Geertz, “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” and the film, Trobriand Cricket: An Ingenious Response to Colonialism); recent significant projects in the area of study (such as Kyle Kusz, Revolt of the White Athlete: Race, Media and the Emergence of Extreme Athletes in America [2007] and the film, Wrestling with Manhood: Boys, Bullying and Battering [2003]); and method and theory ( such as David L. Andrews, Daniel S. Mason and Michael L. Silk, eds., Qualitative Methods in Sports Studies [2005]). Second, throughout the semester, students were engaged in original primary research/ fieldwork centered on discovering “something that matters” that is “somehow” connected to sport and/or play within our University of Illinois community; students were free to go in any direction with this and could form groups to complete their research (in the end, 5 groups of 2 students each submitted projects and the remainder were individual projects). Most of the students spent the whole semester trying to identify a topic that was fascinating and important to themselves, but that also “mattered” in a cultural studies sense and that impacted the university in some way (the final projects of the semester were not so much on final “polished” ethnographies, but rather upon ongoing reflection of EUI issues such as: “What is my specific topic of interest?” Why is my unique project important? “What are the key terms, questions, data, and significance of my unique project?” “What links can be made between my work and others ideas/experiences?” “In what genre/form can I communicate the above to others?”) Throughout the semester, I kept challenging the students to apply some of the critical work upon which we had concentrated in readings and screenings to their projects and to refine their topics so that they were unique and could somehow make a contribution to policies or practices of the university, reveal historical power struggles, etc., as the topics initially selected seemed naïve and uncritical to me. About half way through the semester, I contemplated assigning my own topics to groups, but ultimately agreed that students should proceed with their own journeys into selecting topics. I required students to present to the EUI student conference (25% of total grade) so the final four weeks of the semester were spent getting those presentations submitted and ready. Overall, I am satisfied with how the course went — these particular students – first semester freshman and very energetic – will always be special to me"

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