Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

01  MW8  CAC  18494  IBIRONKE  SC-214

Sports, literature, and the legacy of cultural imperialism

This course will explore different aspects of sports in relation to colonial and postcolonial cultures. We will frame our study of literature around the central role of sports in the formation of Empire. We will examine themes such as: sports and the legacy of cultural imperialism; sports and nationalism; sports as arts, as language, as civil religion, as social control; and sports and self in the context of individual mobility and group catharsis. Some of the questions we will attempt to answer are: how are the disciplines and ethics of sports related to Bildung, and to the cultivation of citizenship? How have postcolonies adopted colonial sports as an instrument of mobilization against empire? And finally, how have the representations of sports in literature served as critiques of anti-intellectualism and sensationalism. The main theoretical work for this course is C. L. R. James’ Beyond a Boundary. Other texts include, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin, Aravind Adiga’s new novel Selection Day, Roland Barthes’ “The World of Wrestling,” and Alan Sillitoe’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

Required texts:

C. L. R. James, Beyond a Boundary.

John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation.

Aravind Adiga, Selection Day.

Roland Barthes, “The World of Wrestling,”

Alan Sillitoe, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

List of Films:



Bend it like Beckham.

A Screaming Man.

why english wide


 Undergraduate Students


Graduate Program in English


Statue of "Willie the Silent"