African American Studies 24, Section 2

Sport, Celebrity, and Controversy in American Culture (1 unit, P/NP) SEATS AVAILABLE

Professor Bil Banks
Tuesday 2:00-3:00, 104 Dwinelle Hall, Class number: 21923

The goal of the class is to encourage critical thinking about the interplay between sport, society and celebrity in 20th- and 21st-century American culture. We hope to occasionally reference developments (like soccer) in other countries, but the focus will be on the United States.

Ideas about race, class, gender and popular media treatments have consistently shaped how various sports and sports figures have fared in the broader culture. The recent cultural/political controversy about Colin Kaepernick has stirred the pot; however, the issues have histories. Billie Jean King, Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, Jackie Robinson, boxing, performance-enhancing drugs and, more recently, U.S. football and health have generated fierce debates in the culture. The growth of media forces like ESPN and social networks have enlightened or demeaned the discussions, depending on your point of view.

Instructor Bio

Bil Banks is a Professor of African American Studies and author of Black Intellectuals: Race and Responsibility in American Life, winner of the 1997 American Book Award. Professor Banks has offered many Freshman and Sophomore Seminars.


I cannot overemphasize how much a successful seminar is contingent on vigorous student involvement in the class sessions. This being Berkeley, I assume a degree of intellectual and cultural diversity in the class, and I encourage students to bring their individual perspectives into the discussions. I believe all students can have something to say. In the vernacular of competitive sportspeople, "bring it!" Your active participation will be a factor in my evaluations.<br><br>The class is limited to 15 students.