New AMCS Program Initiative in Sports & Society Launches Reading Group

Peter Benson


Associate Professor, Sociocultural Anthropology

Noah Cohan

Lecturer and University College MA Program Coordinator

October 31st, 2017

The American Culture Studies Program at Washington University in St. Louis is pleased to announce the launch of a new Program Initiative in Sports & Society: Culture, Power, and Identity. As its name indicates, the Sports and Society Initiative will generate scholarship and pedagogical tools, venues, and activities focused on the intersections of athletics, identity, and social power.

The aim of AMCS Program Initiatives is to locate productive intersections in the research agendas of a critical mass of Americanist faculty and to facilitate collaborative work that has the potential to result in knowledge production in the form, for example, of published books and articles, lasting archives, and new team-taught courses. To that end, the Sports & Society Initiative will begin by launching a reading group. Open to faculty, graduate students, and sports industry practitioners from across the St. Louis region, the group will engage questions like: How do American sports impact broader discourses concerning politics, the economy, nationhood, and identity formation in the contemporary moment? What is the role that sports, teams, and athletes play in affecting public discourse on matters of gender, race, sexuality, inequality and justice? What are the public health consequences of sporting cultures and economies, and how are these problems affected by changing parameters of athletic participation, regulation, and spectatorship?

The group is intended to foster discovery and new modes of collaboration between those who study different aspects of sports culture from multiple fields but are not often in dialogue, including scholars in the humanities (e.g. social and cultural history, critical race and gender studies, literary criticism); social scientists whose work engages political economy, public health, and consumption; and scholars/practitioners in law, business, and medicine. Participants will meet 3 times per semester for sessions devoted to study of important scholarship on these subjects, including recent work by members of the reading group and invited guests.

Our first planning meeting will take place on November 3 at 3 p.m. in DUC 241. Light refreshments will be served. Interested in participating? Please contact the Sports and Society Initiative organizers, Noah Cohan ( or Pete Benson (, to learn more.