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Stadiums are a unique feature of the urban landscape. Many of you have likely experienced the awe-inspiring spectacle of professional sport inside of one. If you consider that Greeks and Mayans built structures to spectate religiously inspired running and ball games, then you are just one part of a long human tradition. Our modern stadiums are indeed a sort of secular temple to professional sports, but they are also quite different from those ancient buildings.
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This class takes a historical perspective in order to understand the modern stadium. Specifically, we will look at how and why people have mobilized resources to build large stadiums in cities. We will examine how people have justified financial and political support for stadiums and how they have impacted their surrounding urban environments. We will start each of three class units by looking at contemporary issues including: the construction of professional stadiums in the United States, the impact of the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games on their host cities in Brazil, and the way in which stadiums can be sites of violence and identity formation. In each unit, we will trace the longer historical trajectories of these contemporary issues in order to understand how they’ve been shaped.

Since this is an introductory history course, we will also focus on building a number of skills historians use including:

  • How to think historically and understand theories of change over time
  • The difference between primary and secondary sources (and how to read them)
  • How to communicate historical arguments in written and verbal forms

By the end of the class, you’ll be able to:

  • Use evidence to develop nuanced arguments
  • Communicate historical lessons in an engaging and accessible manner via podcast
  • Understand how historical evidence is itself shaped by wider forces
  • Articulate the economic, political, and cultural forces that have shaped modern stadiums

Assignments and Assessment

You’ll complete a number of assignments in this class: quizzes, notecards, unit exams, an essay, a podcast, and a number of in-class workshops. Details on these assignments are linked from the schedule page or can be found grouped on the assignments page.

Breakdown of grades:

  • 15% Quizzes (8)
  • 15% Notecards (8)
  • 60% Unit Exams (Exam 1 + Essay  1 | Podcast | Hillsborough Workshop)
  • 10% In-class participation

Grading Scale:

  • 4.0 92-100%
  • 3.5 86-91
  • 3.0 80-85
  • 2.5 74-79
  • 2.0 68-73
  • 1.5 62-67
  • 1.0 57-61
  • 0.0 0-56

You are allowed one unexcused absence. For every following unexcused absence you will lose .5 grade points (2 unexcused absences would reduce your 3.0 to a 2.5)

Late work

If you anticipate that you will not complete an assignment time, please contact me and explain. If you do not get in touch before the deadline passes, I will not accept late work without a legitimate and documentable reason.

Academic Integrity

In accordance with Michigan State University’s policies on “Protection of Scholarship and Grades” and “Integrity of Scholarship and Grades,” students are expected to honor principles of truth and honesty in their academic work. Academic integrity means, amongst other things, not plagiarizing. Plagiarism includes submitting someone else’s work (words, ideas, etc.) as their own or knowingly permitting another student to copy and submit their work. Additional discussion of academic integrity is available on the Ombudsman’s website.

Students with Disabilities

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.