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Academic Bulletin Freshman Tutorials - 2008-09 - 8 FT 8

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FT 08-O Encroachment?: College Football as a Window on American History, Society, and Culture

Paul Vasquez, Department of Political Science

There are many different ways to study the history of the United States. As college football teams on campuses around the country embark on another season this autumn, we will explore American history in the late 19th and 20th centuries by examining developments related to this popular pastime and form of entertainment. In some cases, the points of examination will be ways in which the American experience influenced activities related to college football. At other times, we will also study some ways in which college football shaped the course of American history, society, and culture. 

We will begin by examining the cultural origins of college football in the United States and its spread across the country, including factors related to popular interest in the sport. Next, we will examine how reforms made in collegiate football during the Progressive Era attempted to reform the game out of concern for the health of the players. As we move deeper into the 20th century we will examine college football with regards to mass media and public perception of the game, the decline of amateurism in the sport and rise of big business as well as the influence of American wars on the sport. Finally, we will examine the sport with regard to race and gender relations, the integrity of higher education, and recent debates regarding identity politics and political correctness. Note: As part of this course, students will be required to accompany a class field trip to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana, on a Sunday to be determined. The trip will conducted on either October 26 or November 2.

Credits: 1