Cultures of Sport

R1B (Section 2) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation (Summer Session D -- 6 weeks)
Summer 2013
T. Wilds


Writing Analytically, 5th Ed.; Georges Perec: W, or the Memory of Childhood; H.G. Bissinger: Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team and a Dream; A Course Reader available at Krishna Copy, 2111 University Ave, Berkeley, including: Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (excerpts); Jean-Philippe Toussaint,“Zidane’s Melancholy;” Laurent Dubois, Soccer Empire (excerpts); Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, In Praise of Athletic Beauty, and others.



Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Hugh Hudson: Chariots of Fire

Gurinder Chadha: Bend It Like Beckham

Further materials posted on or shown in class


Course Description:

Spectator sports galvanize audiences in the billions, sweeping fans up in events that seem to represent much more than simple wins or losses. With this special power in mind, Zinedine Zidane, the French national soccer team’s most popular player, delivered a famous play on words during the lead-up to the 2006 World Cup final, declaring to his teammates, “We must score minds while scoring goals.” Zidane’s phrase turns on the meanings of “to score”–to make a goal, but also to scratch, to mark, to incise. It not only likens athletic acts to writing but also presents the playing field as a place for inscribing meaning. In this course we will examine how some writers have understood athletic gestures to communicate meaning, expressing aspects of ethnicity, gender, class and individual identity in motion. At the same time, we will examine some of sports’ sociocultural uses, representing utopia for some, advancing or resisting dystopia for others. From the insolent young girls of Marcel Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower to the small-town Texas heroes of Friday Night Lights, from the Olympic ideal of Chariots of Fire to the sinister games of Georges Perec’s W, the course presents a broad range of texts in which athletics have been understood to discipline as well as, perhaps, to liberate bodies.

Additional Information:

French R1B fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition requirement of the College of Letters and Science. It serves as an introduction to research in humanities disciplines and furthers R1A’s emphasis on analytic writing by highlighting the use of secondary source material in critical writing. The classroom will provide a theater for students to try out their readings through discussion and a variety of other individual and collaborative undertakings. Students should emerge from the course able to read a variety of types of text in a critical light; to distinguish valid interpretations from implausible ones and develop original, convincing interpretations of their own; to arrive at convincing interpretations in clear, standard English; to read their own writing and that of colleagues with a critical, constructive eye; and to use techniques of humanist research to enhance their own critical perspectives.


Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes